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Australia's 'repeal day' de-regulated SPOOKS

Governments ignored the watchdog anyway, now it seems we don't need one

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Australia's government yesterday declared that it will stage a "repeal day" next week, a day of Parliamentary proceedings largely given over to sweeping aside legislation said to be obsolete, idle, and/or superseded by newer laws.

The exercise is largely political: the government got to put some big numbers in its press releases and portray itself as having demonstrated reforming zeal.

But there were also a couple of planned repeals that deserve the attention of the technology community.

One was repeal of the legislation that allowed telecommunications carriers to switch off the AMPS mobile telephone system, and legislation relating to telegraph systems.

Telstra's AMPS network breathed its last in 1999, so thank goodness the law that let it do so is no longer on the books.

Also worth noting is this example: the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Repeal Bill 2014.

Apparently, among the business ventures that are intolerably burdened by too much regulation (in one of the OECD's few successful economies since 2007), Australia's national security community needs special consideration.

Hence, among the pile of “we're repealing this legislation”, is the law to get rid of the only body that actually looks at national security legislation.

It could be argued that the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor is being abolished because of ineffectiveness. After all, as this article in The Conversation, the monitor's own complaint is that politicians didn't act on its recommendations.

Which makes the explanatory memorandum to the bill seem odd: the government's excuse for removing the body is that it's fulfilled its duty, even though its own opinion is that it's achieved nothing at all.

Only a relentless cynic could conclude that no watchdog at all is better than an ineffective watchdog, if the chain is held by spooks. ®

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