The PM has been blasted for ‘flat-out’ lies after claiming Labor was harming law enforcement by blocking three key national security bills.
Scott Morrison has been accused of “flat-out” lies after claiming Labor had blocked three national security bills designed to give law enforcement sweeping surveillance powers.
Speaking after the southern hemisphere’s biggest crime bust, the Prime Minister claimed Labor had stymied the progression of the bills, which are before the parliament.
Mr Morrison insisted the government had “significantly increased” investment in border security, but the Transport Security Bill had met a dead end with Labor.
The law would allow the use of criminal intelligence to bar workers from receiving aviation and maritime security cards.
“This is critical to ensure that criminals don’t get on to wharves, that they can’t access security credentials and things of that nature,” he said.
“I don’t know why they’re being protected. I can’t give you an answer on that. We want it shut down.”
But Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally accused Mr Morrison of “flat-out lying” about Labor’s stance, saying Australians would be “dismayed” to see the Prime Minister “playing politics” with national security.
She said the bill was not opposed by Labor, which had in fact sought amendments to strengthen it over concerns foreign crew would not be subject to security requirements.
“It’s a gaping loophole left open at our borders by Mr Morrison. He fixes that, this bill can pass the parliament,” she said on Tuesday.
The bill had been “languishing around the parliament” for five years because the government had not worked to ensure support from the Senate, Ms Keneally said.
Another bill cited in Mr Morrison’s broadside was the “identify and disrupt” legislation, which aims to create three new warrants allowing law enforcement to take over a suspect’s online accounts, and collect or delete their data.
Ms Keneally said the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) was yet to hold hearings on the proposed law, and was still receiving briefings as part of a bipartisan process.
“So it’s just wrong for Mr Morrison to say, to impute, to claim, that Labor does not support this bill,” she said.
“He can’t even make a claim as to what his own members on the Intelligence and Security Committee will say about this legislation, because it is currently under consideration.”
Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw urged parliament to adopt the bill and the international production orders (IPO) legislation, with police unable to penetrate the dark web without legislation.
The IPO would create a framework for intelligence agencies to intercept suspects’ stored communications, but a PJCIS report in May recommended it be amended to ensure Australian citizens could not be targeted by a foreign government.
The recommendations were handed down unanimously, including by five Coalition members, despite Mr Morrison claiming on Tuesday the laws did “not have bipartisan support”.
But Ms Keneally distinguished between Mr Morrison and his colleagues on the PJCIS, led by senator Liberal senator James Paterson, who she said worked “in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion with the Labor members in the national interest”.