Bob Wiese

Bob Wiese


    Telecommunications Interception Bill introduced in Parliament

    22/11/1995 12:00 AM



    Telecommunications interception is an important investigative tool that Western Australian police need in the fight against serious crime, according to Police Minister Bob Wiese.


    The Minister said the Coalition Government was committed to better law enforcement in this State and it was vital to equip the WA Police Service with similar powers of interception being used by other law enforcement agencies throughout Australia.


    Introducing the Telecommunications Interception Bill in Parliament today, Mr Wiese said telecommunications was a fundamental link for criminal activity and the proposed legislation would cover telephones, facsimile machines, computer systems such as the Internet and digital mobile phones.


    "WA is one of the last States to introduce this legislation, which I believe will give police an essential crime-fighting weapon to counter serious criminal acts, such as murder, kidnapping and the trafficking of drugs," he said.


    "The legislation will also enable police to open the door on criminal activities at all levels in this State and I am sure those who flout the law will find their operations significantly curtailed."


    Mr Wiese said the recent conviction of a local drug dealer through the use of telephone interception in another State prevented more than five kilograms of illegal amphetamines reaching the streets of Perth.


    "Without the lawful interception by the Victorian police of a telephone call from the local dealer to a Victorian criminal, the amphetamines would have successfully been transferred from Melbourne to Perth," he said.


    "It was a very successful operation by police and ultimately could have saved the lives of young Western Australians who may have purchased the drugs."


    Mr Wiese said Federal Police had been using telecommunications interception since 1979 and in 1987 those powers were extended - through Commonwealth legislation - to include any State police service which met the stringent Federal safeguards and protection.


    "Similar telecommunications interception legislation to this Bill has been operating in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for about six years," he said.


    The Minister said WA's proposed legislation recognised community concerns on privacy and confidentiality and included strict judicial guidelines and legislative requirements. These were:


    *           a warrant to conduct intercepts must be considered and approved by a Federal


    *           a warrant would be revoked if the conditions for its issue were not met or no

    longer applied;

    *           a maximum life of 90 days for any warrant;

    *           the destruction of any records of intercepts when the investigation and relevant

    proceedings were completed; and -

    *           the investigating team must maintain comprehensive records for the scrutiny of the Police Commissioner, Police Minister and the Federal Minister.


    Mr Wiese said it was proposed that the State Ombudsman would also be required to inspect the interception records of the WA police and report to the Federal Minister, the Police Minister and Parliament.


    "While the establishment of this legislation is an important crime-fighting tool, proper safeguards have been put in place to ensure accountability and confidentiality at all times," he said.


    "Any person who breaches those safeguards by divulging information will face a two-year gaol term."


    Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595 or 322 2311