Abbott wants data-retention law passed this week

​Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants the government's proposed mandatory data-retention scheme passed into law this week.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that he wants the government's controversial proposed mandatory data-retention legislation passed in parliament by the end of the week.

"This week, I hope we'll get metadata retention laws through the parliament," Abbott told ABC Radio National's Michael Brissenden on Wednesday morning's AM program.

The comments come hot on the heels of the government's move to support all 39 of the recommendations made in a report by the parliamentary committee reviewing the proposed data-retention Bill, which would require telecommunications companies to keep a set of customer communications metadata for a minimum of two years.

In a joint statement published on Tuesday, Australia's Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis called on parliament to support the committee's principle, and final, recommendation that the Bill be passed.

Among other recommendations, the government is supporting the establishment of a two-year period for metadata retention; the requirement for telcos to provide notification in the event of a security breach of its data stores, which will be mandated to be encrypted; and the government making a "substantial contribution" to the costs of creating the regime.

While the prime minister is hopeful that the legislation will be voted into law this week, the amendments resulting from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's recommendations still need to be written into the proposed legislation, and it will have to re-enter both the House of Representatives and the Senate for another reading before it can come to a vote.

The Bill is the third and final tranche of the government's so-called anti-terrorism legislation, which Abbott has been talking up in the wake of last month's Liberal Party leadership spill crisis.

"As the domestic threat increased last year, we strengthened funding for our security agencies, we've passed some stronger laws through the parliament," Abbott told Brissenden.

However, Turnbull, who introduced the data-retention legislation into parliament last year, suggested on Tuesday night's 7.30 program that mandatory data retention is not a "silver bullet" in the government's law-enforcement efforts.

"Nobody said it's a silver bullet," Turbull told the ABC's Leigh Sales in response to the suggestion that people would be able to find a way to get around the proposed scheme.

"Just because something isn't 100 percent effective doesn't mean you don't do it," said Turnbull. "You know, the business of law enforcement and security involves getting a scrap of information here, a scrap of information there, and being able to link it together.

"And, unless that [data's] retained, Leigh, you can't do that," he said.

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