Buyer’s remorse

13 Nov 2014

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has pointed to Britain’s parliamentary oversight of security agencies as a way of moderating Australia’s latest security laws.

IN A SERIES of unusual moves over the past couple of weeks, Labor has exhibited what looks like a degree of regret over its recent support for the federal government’s new wave of national security laws.

First to break ranks was Anthony Albanese. In an interview with SkyNews shortly after he and his colleagues voted to enact the government’s Foreign Fighters Bill, he conceded that the legislation had not received sufficient parliamentary scrutiny. Although Labor leader Bill Shorten initially disagreed with that assessment, he subsequently wrote to the prime minister, Tony Abbott, asking him to refer the legislation to the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor for review. So far, Abbott doesn’t appear to have taken up the proposal. That is perhaps no great surprise: the Coalition government doesn’t seem to set much store by the office of the Independent Monitor. Earlier this year it tried unsuccessfully to abolish the office, and it has left the position unfilled since the inaugural Monitor, Bret Walker SC, stepped down in April…

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