THE federal government has moved to effectively stall implementation of a controversial expansion of internet surveillance and security powers until after the next election.
National security bureaucrats have drafted legislation to implement the changes, but the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, decided not to release the draft laws and instead referred a discussion paper to a parliamentary committee examining the issue.
The national security discussion paper, released last month by Ms Roxon, canvasses proposals for compulsory internet data retention, forcing people to give up computer passwords, streamlining telecommunications interception approvals, government regulation of telecommunications industry security standards, and enhanced stop-and-search powers for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
A senior national security official told the Herald yesterday that Ms Roxon's decision to refer the proposals to the parliamentary joint committee for intelligence and security, and only consider thedetail of legislation after that inquiry, would "most likely put all of this off until after the election".
"These reforms are urgently needed to deal with a rapidly evolving security environment, but there isn't much appetite within the government for anything that attracts controversy," the official said.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, yesterday announced a long-delayed review of federal and state counter-terrorism laws introduced after the 2005 London terrorist bombings.
The story Internet surveillance put off until after the election first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.