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The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - PRIM­ROSE RIOR­DAN RICHARD FER­GU­SON

Bill Shorten last night backed down on La­bor’s in­sis­tence on al­ter­ing the gov­ern­ment’s new an­titer­ror en­cryp­tion laws and al­lowed them to pass, af­ter a fight be­tween the ma­jor par­ties over na­tional se­cu­rity.

Mr Shorten said the back­down would avoid sac­ri­fic­ing the safety of Aus­tralians over the hol­i­day pe­riod when se­cu­rity agen­cies warn the ter­ror threat in­creases.

La­bor had ear­lier failed in its at­tempt to force the gov­ern­ment into an em­bar­rass­ing loss over a lower house vote.

“I will not sac­ri­fice the safety of Aus­tralians be­cause Mr Mor­ri­son doesn’t have the courage to deal with is­sues in the house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Mr Shorten said.

“We are not go­ing to go home and leave the Aus­tralian peo­ple on their own over Christ­mas with in­fe­rior laws of na­tional safety.”

Aus­tralian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Or­gan­i­sa­tion head Dun­can Lewis last week said the agency would use the new pow­ers im­me­di­ately, with el­e­ments of the bill re­quir­ing a 28-day no­ti­fi­ca­tion pe­riod be­fore com­ing into ef­fect.

The laws — which passed the Se­nate last night 44 votes to 12 — give na­tional se­cu­rity agen­cies bet­ter ac­cess to en­crypted mes­sages and de­vices to avoid ter­ror­ist at­tacks, and to tar­get pae­dophiles and or­gan­ised crime gangs.

Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies and in­dus­try ex­perts had ex­pressed ma­jor con­cerns about the laws, claim­ing they would un­der­mine en­cryp­tion used to se­cure data.

As Vic­to­rian sen­a­tor Jac­inta Collins last night con­firmed La­bor would with­draw its amend­ments in the Se­nate, Mr Shorten said the op­po­si­tion would seek a deal with the gov­ern­ment to get them to help pass its pro­posed changes next year.

Se­nate gov­ern­ment leader Mathias Cor­mann said the gov­ern­ment sup­ported only those amend­ments it con­sid­ered to be in the spirit of those rec­om­mended by a bi­par­ti­san re­port re­leased this week.

“I also con­firm that the gov­ern­ment has agreed to fa­cil­i­tate con­sid­er­a­tion of these amend­ments in the new year in gov­ern­ment busi­ness time,” Sen­a­tor Cor­mann told the Se­nate.

“And I fi­nally, also, con­firm that the gov­ern­ment sup­ports in prin­ci­ple all amend­ments that are con­sis­tent with the rec­om­menda- tions of the par­lia­men­tary joint com­mit­tee on in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity rec­om­men­da­tions in re­la­tion to this bill.”

Mr Shorten was un­able to say that he had any agree­ment in writ­ing guar­an­tee­ing the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port to pass La­bor’s changes in full.

The laws, which Mr Shorten claimed were “un­sat­is­fac­tory”, were passed af­ter a day of par­lia­men­tary tac­tics on both sides.

The op­po­si­tion at­tempted to use its amend­ments to force the gov­ern­ment to ex­tend the sit­ting of the lower house to fa­cil­i­tate a sep­a­rate vote which the Coali­tion was likely to lose.

At the same time it ap­peared the gov­ern­ment was pre­pared to al­low the laws not to pass be­fore Christ­mas — de­spite in­sist­ing they were es­sen­tial to avoid ter­ror at­tacks — to avoid a dam­ag­ing vote on pro­posed refugee laws.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Chris­tian Porter said La­bor’s ma­noeu­vring broke with as­sur­ances he had re­ceived from La­bor over how it would deal with the laws.

“La­bor chose pol­i­tics over giv­ing our po­lice and se­cu­rity agen­cies the tools they need,” he said.

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