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Opening Statement to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement

11 May 2018

Morry Bailes, President, Law Council of Australia

The Law Council notes that the Terms of Reference for this inquiry on the impact of new and emerging information and communications technology are very broad and do not provide any specific policy proposals for consideration and comment. As is customary, the Law Council does not comment as to whether possible policy is good or bad. We see the Law Council’s role as assisting the legislature to ensure that laws and regulatory instruments:

a. are clear, consistent, sustainable over a period of time and otherwise practical;

b. reflect good practice in public administration; and

c. take due account of human rights and other fundamental rights and legitimate expectations of citizens, and thereby do not erode citizen trust in government and its agencies. This is particularly important in the case of security and law enforcement legislation, where safe civil society can only be achieved over the longer term if citizens trust what government is doing necessarily under a cloak of confidentiality. Safe civil society should not be achieved at the expense of citizens being fully engaged in the digital economy and sharing the benefits of the digital economy. Getting this balance right is particularly difficult, as the legislature must speculate as to likely future developments in technology and its uses and the extent to which new statutory interventions may prompt users to work around these interventions or opt-out of targeted digital applications.

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