Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick today condemned Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s attempt to bully the Parliament into passing the Government’s controversial encryption bill without full scrutiny and debate.

“Peter Dutton’s demands that Parliament pass his encryption bill before Christmas, effectively truncating scrutiny and debate, are a crude attempt to twist national security for political advantage,” Senator Patrick said. “The Labor Opposition needs to pluck up the courage and not capitulate to Dutton’s political thuggery.”

“Minister Dutton’s controversial encryption legislation raises very complex questions, not only about countering terrorism and crime, but also the security of internet services that are used by Australians every day.”

“Very serious concerns have been raised by IT companies, security and privacy experts that the Government’s proposals to open backdoors for law enforcement and security agencies will systemically compromise internet security. These concerns must be given full consideration. They cannot be swept under the carpet.”

“If the encryption legislation was the urgent priority the Home Affairs Minister now claims, he should have introduced his Bill into the Parliament months earlier.”

“It is unacceptable that Mr Dutton should be banging on the door of the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Intelligence and Security, demanding that its members truncate their inquiry and rubber stamp his Bill.”

“The highly political and arbitrary nature of Mr Dutton’s bullying is reflected in the fact that in the last Senate sitting, the Government failed to give priority to its own legislation to expedite the call out of the Australian Defence Force in response to terrorist threats and attacks. That Bill enjoys bipartisan support, but the Government couldn’t be bothered to give it priority last week.”

“It is noteworthy that the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security were prompted yesterday to issue a statement emphasising the importance of careful consideration of counter-terrorism legislation ‘to ensure that new powers are proportionate and appropriately balanced with human rights and privacy, and that commensurate oversight and accountability is provided’.”

“Unfortunately, however, the Labor Opposition has not always been very robust in resisting Coalition political demands that complex and controversial national security legislation be rushed without proper debate.”

“In June this year Labor Senators joined with the Government to ram through new espionage, foreign interference and foreign agent registration laws through the Senate in a single day.”

“Labor joined the Government in proclaiming that legislation to be so urgent that only the most truncated debate was allowed. Yet five months later the Coalition Government has not yet implemented its foreign influence transparency scheme, and has given no indication that it will do so before the forthcoming federal election.”

“It would be another betrayal of the Parliament’s vital scrutiny role if Labor again rolls over, and again rubber stamps controversial national security legislation without proper scrutiny and debate.”