The ATO is now a counter-terrorism agency

Sabine Wolff from the Institute of Public Affairs writes in Freedomwatch on a request by the ATO to have broad new surveillance powers:
The problem with allowing government and its agencies to chip away at civil liberties in the name of counter-terrorism is that they’re never satisfied.

Today, The Australian is reporting that the Australian Tax Office has sought “tough new powers to access phone taps, text messages and other communications” in a submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Wait, what? That committee is currently in the middle of a parliamentary inquiry that’s supposed to examine the relationship between technology, national security and counter-terrorism. And the ATO has made a submission to it, arguing that it needs access to “real-time telecommunications data” to combat tax fraud.

Now, committing tax fraud is not the greatest idea, and as the ATO allegedly points out in its submission it is very costly to the Commonwealth, but tax fraud is not an example of terrorism. It’s not a national security issue.

Read the whole thing.

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