Greens telco metadata bill on election hiatus

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Greens telco metadata bill on election hiatus

Updated: To resume next month.

A Senate Committee examining a proposed warrant scheme for telecommunications metadata has discontinued its inquiry due to the federal election.

Committee chair, Senator Trish Crossin, said in a brief report (pdf) the proroguing of parliament and dissolution of the House of Representatives had led to the pin being pulled.

"The committee has resolved not to continue its inquiry into the provisions of the Bill," Senator Crossin said.

"This decision is consistent with the approach to inquiries during elections adopted by other Senate committees.

"If the Bill is reintroduced in the new parliament, the Senate can again refer it to the committee for inquiry".

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam expected Senate consideration of the Bill to resume once parliament recommenced.

"It's basically just a paperwork approach," he said. "When parliament resumes, no matter who's in government, you'll see a whole raft of these things get re-referred to the committee."

The Bill was introduced by the Greens in response to alarming figures over the amount of telecommunications metadata accessed by law enforcement agencies in the 2011-12 financial year.

The Greens sought to bring judicial oversight to the process by making investigative and law enforcement agencies get a warrant before they could access metadata.

The inquiry into the Bill attracted 18 submissions. Law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies derided the proposal, arguing it could prevent them getting access to data critical to investigations, and that it could lead to more intrusive methods of information-gathering being used.

Several parties, including the Pirate Party and the Law Council of Australia, had backed the Greens' proposal, but raised their own concerns.

Update, 2.06pm: This story originally stated the Senate inquiry had been canned. Though the current inquiry is discontinued, parliamentary process will see it resume post-election. iTnews apologises for the error.

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