Labor teams up with Coalition again to support data retention


news Australia’s two major political parties teamed up again yesterday to block a Greens motion in the Senate which would have called upon the Government to repeal the data retention scheme, in a move which demonstrates enduring bipartisan support for the controversial policy.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 passed the Federal Parliament in March last year. For the first time, it forces Australian telcos and Internet service providers to retain comprehensive records on their customers’ Internet and telephone habits for a period of two years.

Even for major telcos such as Telstra, which were already retaining large amounts of data about their customers, the scheme significantly expands the amount and type of data which will be held compared to the telcos’ previous records.

In the Senate yesterday, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam moved a motion (see the full text here) which noted the current proposed significant expansion of the scheme, as well as its cost. Had the motion passed, it would have had the effect of the Senate calling upon the Government to repeal the scheme.

However, the motion did not pass. The only senators to support the motion were from the Greens, as well as independents Ricky Muir ad Nick Xenophon and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm. All have previously opposed the scheme.

In a statement, Ludlam accused Labor of continuing to support the scheme, despite its “spiralling cost and expanding scope”.

“This scheme was poorly conceived from the outset. It is an absurd, expensive and ineffective farce. It’s an indefensible encroachment into the private lives of everyday Australians from the Liberal Party, who say they stand for personal freedom,” said Ludlam.

“Since Labor allowed its introduction, the implementation of this $300 million scheme has been botched, and the list of agencies seeking warrantless access to data has continued to grow.”

“Warranted and targeted surveillance plays an important role in assisting law enforcement agencies to locate the needles, all this scheme does is create a haystack several orders of magnitude larger.”

Ludlam said perhaps the most ridiculous part of the “nonsense” scheme as that it was “trivially easy for anyone trying to circumvent it”.

“For as little as 15 cents a day they could use any one of the methods outlined by none other than Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself,” he said.

“The government should never have introduced this scheme. Labor should never have backed this scheme. They should both get together to clean up the mess, and scrap it.”

Not sure what the point of this rather fruitless exercise was by Senator Ludlam … it is somewhat obvious that the Government and the Opposition would vote down this motion instantly. Possibly Ludlam was attempting to use the bipartisanship on the data retention issue to show that Labor, too, can collaborate with the Government on unpopular measures. The Greens/Coalition deal on the Senate voting reform package has Labor strongly on the attack against the Greens at the moment.

Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


  1. None of the ISPs are even collecting data for it yet, that’s how badly botched the whole scheme is. Nobody knows how it will even work, let alone how it will actually be implemented.

    The irony of course is – Abbott and Branid were spruking the urgency of the legislation passing as not doing so will put our national security in jeopardy. How has that panned out? No action since the mandate to collect came in last October and the country isn’t on fire. What a load of bs.

    • Oddly enough, Abbott is gone, and Brandis has gone very quiet… either that or I’m not listening to the “news” enough…

    • I assume that’s the point though…

      …rush it out and wait until no one actually gives a rats arse anymore on the topic and then viola amend and alter said legislation to fit specific “needs” by the security and other such parties.

  2. Hopefully LPA and ALP can be as bipartisan when it comes to Fttdp as well…

    Anyone asked the Greens where they stand on Fttdp?

  3. Oh ffs labor, stop supporting stuff that infringes on our right to privacy!

    You idiots are supposed to be progressive but you support b.s. Like this!

    • You got the “idiots” bit right :) Progressive will be when they stop parachuting union thugs into Parliament.

      • Agreed, labor needs to cut the unions out of the party, I have no issue with unions at all but don’t believe they should be able to wield the power they do in the alp.

        • It’s not necessarily the ones that become politicians, it’s the factional power brokers that are screwing them up.

          They’ve forgotten that Australia is a centrist country and both parties are catering to the right currently, rather than the middle. The LPA will always win more votes from the right (it’s their home turf after all) and the ALP is losing left votes to the Greens.

          If they keep following the same path, they’ll be pretty well rooted in a decade or two…

  4. These folk want to collect even more information on us than they do now?
    These are the same security services who intercepted a facebook post by Numan Haider who posted that he would use a knife to behead police officers.
    But the security services did not have time to transcribe the post and inform Vic police about the threat and so let the two officers go to a meeting without the information. Subsequently Numan Haider stabbed the two officers and was shot dead in the exchange. Senior police officers have been reported as saying they would not have sanctioned the meeting if they had been told of the threat.
    And these incompetant security services want even more information?

    • Yeah, like the US ( ), they have so much data that they can’t see the trees for the forest.

      A quote from that article:

      With help from its British counterparts at GCHQ, the NSA is able to “buffer” more than 21 petabytes a day.

      How do they have any hope of extracting useful data in a timely manor from a data stream that large? Even using data mining and Watson type tools, the “hits” would be huge…

  5. “Not sure what the point of this rather fruitless exercise was by Senator Ludlam”

    This excercise was never about taming/diluting Data Retention. Ludlam and Di Natale seem to have a longer term deep plan to impress their electorate. It would appear they do not want to be seen as a Labor Rump like the Nats at the back end of the Libs. Significantly, this is very good planning, it could even serve to take the Greens out of the AD doldrums and into the mainstream of Oz politics with a bit more time. I’m sure the more Sam Dastyari craps all over Scott and Richard the better the Greens street cred goes up among the LibCo voters.

  6. It’s also pushback for the funny games Labor have been playing with their same-sex marriage votes in the Senate. It’s obvious those bills will go nowhere with Turnbull’s government in power and Labor/Leyonhjelm were just pushing votes to waste the Senate’s time. It was part of their effort to run down the clock to prevent voting reform from passing.

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