Ludlam raises OzLog issue in Senate


Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam has questioned the Federal Government in the Senate over a controversial new proposal that could see Australians’ web browsing, email and telephone records tracked by internet services providers.

The senator asked Senator Penny Wong — representing Attorney-General Robert McCLelland — in the Senate this afternoon whether the Government was considering a proposal which would see such records kept. The proposal — revealed several weeks ago by, which has since published a major update on the situation — has been dubbed “OzLog” online.

In response, Wong appeared to read out a pre-prepared response which bore a close resemblance to statements the Government has previously issued on the matter.

“I understand the Attorney-General’s Department has been consulting with industry with relation to continuing availability of telecommunications data with reference to law enforcement purposes,” Wong said, noting the information would be valuable in identifying criminal activities and terrorist networks.

She added that the proposal would not see the content of communications tracked — only information which would allow people to be identified online.

Wong said that technology had changed the way telecommunications companies operated, and that the Government was keen to maintain access to the data.

Ludlam also asked Wong whether the Government had costed the proposal, or whether it expected the industry to fund it, and what had industry told the Government in the consultations. In addition, he asked whether the Government was planning to consult with the public about the proposal, or whether it would “repeat the experience of the mandatory internet filter”.

Wong said the proposal would need to meet a good balance between a number of different areas of concern — such as privacy, law enforcement needs, commercial imperatives and so on. She also noted the Attorney-General’s Department had had ongoing consultations with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner over the matter, and any proposal would be considered with relevance to privacy legislation.

However Wong appeared to imply that not all of Ludlam’s questions could be answered just yet. “Your question really goes to what the final detail of any proposal would indicate,” she said.

Ludlam didn’t appear to believe the exchange delivered any insight. “One of those moments when you end up knowing less than before you asked the question,” he said on Twitter afterwards.

Image credit: David Howe, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence


  1. The amusing thing about this effort from Ludlam today was the stock standard response from the Government. Wong read the answer straight from her notes — she had clearly been expecting the question and was prepared to give exactly the answer that the Government had previously given. This represents a lack of openness on the part of the Government — its ministers should be able to discuss issues rationally and openly rather than simply reading prepared answers without any insight.

    • The issue is the Senator Wong is not the minister responsable.

      Generally, front bench senators get briefing notes for portfolios being held by lower house ministers (and the same for the MHR ministers).

      Generally these “Ministers representing” do not get full briefings due to logistics and time constraints, so unless the Minister is involved or has intererst in the topic, they would generally use canned answers to questions without notice.

      One way Senator Lundam could get more details is to ask the question “on notice” to allow the department to prepare a more detailed answer. However question time (or more formally, questions without notice) is an important opotunity to non govenment members as it is the only part of a parlementary session broadcast on free to air TV.

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