SKY NEWS AGENDA
MONDAY, 3 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: World leaders’ game of guess who at the G20, Malcolm Turnbull’s call for an early election, encryption legislation, power.
KEIRAN GILBERT: Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh, I want to start on encrypted technology, the new laws that the government wants introduced before Christmas because the agencies are saying we're heading into a season of increased threat. Labor needs to get something agreed to this week, don't you, in the interests of national security?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Kieran, as we understand it, this is an issue first raised with the government in 2014 and legislation was only brought forward in September of this year. It's important with any significant change we're making, particularly around issues such as encryption, that we get it right. As Law Council of Australia has said today, this kind of process shouldn't be rushed and that's the way in which this joint committee has in the past worked - making 300 sensible changes to 15 pieces of legislation to make Australians safer. But many experts are warning that the law is currently drafted to make Australians less safe, would open new opportunities for cyber criminals and terrorists. Labor is concerned, as are many experts, about the implications I could have for Australian security.
LAURA JAYES: Why won’t Labour agree to an interim measure to make sure these safeguards are in place over the Christmas period and then revisit in the new year?
LEIGH: Laura, we’ve been willing to work with the government on measures which tackle some of the egregious issues that have been identified, issues around paedophiles and the like. But we want to make sure that if we're working on encryption, we're very careful about how we tackle that. You’d recall when the US National Security Agency had some of its cyber hacking tools stolen that they ended up being used by all sorts of criminals around the world. Indeed it said that the WannaCry ransomware attack used tools that had been stolen from the NSA. We’ve got to be very careful in order to make sure that you're making Australians safer. Many of the experts who've given careful considered evidence to this committee have suggested that the current bill makes Australia a more dangerous place-
GILBERT: But would you like to see compromise by the end of the week, in terms of if you want safeguards that those safeguards put in place. Because if the federal police and the others are saying that they need this capacity to see what the terrorists are saying on encrypted technology, surely you need to afford them of that?
LEIGH: They’ve said they need these powers, they’ve said that the timing is a matter for the parliament and the history of this joint committee is one of improving legislation. It has worked constructively to make Australians safer through 15 bills in the past and should be allowed to continue to do that work. I'm just disappointed to see people like Scott Morrison and his sidekick Angus Taylor making these sorts of outrageous claims and suggesting that Labor isn't committed to cracking down on terrorism. We absolutely are. We need to get it right.
JAYES: Malcolm Turnbull has called Scott Morrison to go to an early election this morning, sometime after the Christmas period. Would this be helpful to Labor?
LEIGH: We believe an election should be brought on as soon as possible, Laura, as to most Australians. They're asking the same question that Donald Trump is asking over the weekend - where is Malcolm Trumble? Who is this Scott Morrison guy and how did he get here? Angela Merkel needed a cheat sheet to read up on the current prime minister. Many Australians would like to like to see the prime minister face the voters on 2 March. Indeed, imagine most Australians would prefer it even sooner than that. The Liberal party has stopped fighting for the interests of Australians. They're just fighting among themselves.
GILBERT: Well, they say they're fighting for the interests of consumers when it comes to power bills and that you're siding with the big energy companies. Why don't you allow that divestment power to be legislated in terms of companies that might not pass on appropriate cost reduction?
LEIGH: Because it may well drive up power prices rather than driving them down. The competition watchdog looked at this issue and didn't recommend a divestment power. Some places in the world do allow divestment, but it's done through a carefully considered arm’s length process, not through a minister being able to break up companies. I mean, that has shades of Venezuela about it. The notion that you're going to bring down power prices through this sort of extraordinary approach is quite bizarre. That's why you're seeing these high court challenges being mooted. You create considerable uncertainty in the market. If the competition watchdog thought divestment was a good way to bring down power prices, they would have recommended it.
JAYES: Andrew Leigh, thanks so much for your time this morning.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.