Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has led Labor to support the government's controversial surveillance laws with the Palmer United Party
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has led Labor to support the government's controversial surveillance laws with the Palmer United Party Rob Williams

Labor helps LNP and Palmer United pass surveillance laws

THE Abbott Government, Labor and Palmer United Party combined their votes to pass the controversial data retention bill in parliament last night.

Despite a series of amendments moved by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and other crossbenchers, the Coalition-Labor deal reached earlier this week secured its passage through the Senate.

The bill to force telecommunications companies to capture all customers' metadata for two years came despite continued uncertainty on the cost to industry of the reforms, and the specific information that would be retained.

Senator Scott Ludlam.
Senator Scott Ludlam. LUKAS Cochaap

Sen Ludlam said the bill passed due after the Labor Party caved in to the government's demands, saying to the Opposition: "You failed to turn up".

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday the legislation was "vital" to criminal investigations across organised crime, child exploitation and terrorism.

Labor senators told the Upper House on Thursday they had secured key changes to help protect journalists' sources and more oversight of the operation of the retention scheme.

But Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said on Thursday he was concerned the new laws could suffocate press freedom, and he was concerned it did not address information sharing between governments and agencies.

Sen Xenophon described the bill as making the "haystack bigger", when intelligence agencies were trying to find the needle in the haystack, and he believed there was still not enough scrutiny of the scheme.


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