Excuse Me Sir, I Speak Brandish: The Transcript From Hell


Normally, when a Minister stages a press conference, or gives a significant media interview, the government of the day puts a transcript up on the relevant minister’s website, to assist their message to get out.

It’s a long-standing government convention, and a helpful one.

Alas, there appears to be no transcript of Attorney General George Brandis’ highly significant interview with Sky News’ David Speers mid-week.

Highly significant because it is one of the great train-wreck interviews in living memory.

Brandis was trying to explain new legislation which aims to give spying agencies the capacity to retrieve your ‘metadata’, several years after the event.

Metadata is… well… it’s… it’s the… metadata is like the… well… we’ll let George take over from here.

SPEERS: Okay, but if I go to the Sky News website, The Australian website, um, a more questionable website, that will be, is that what we’re talking about here?

BRANDIS: Well I tha my, my, my, the what you’re viewing on the internet is not what we’re interested in and that’s not what we regard…

SPEERS: But you’ll be able to see whether I’ve been to that website or that website or that website?

BRANDIS: Well what we’ll be able wur what the security agencies want to know to be retained is the wer is the is the eel-ectronic address of the website that the web user eh is er…

SPEERS: So it does tell you the website?

BRANDIS: Well it it it it tells you the address of the website.

SPEERS: That’s the website isn’t it? It tells you the, what website you’ve been to?

BRANDIS: Well whe when you visit a visit a website you you know people you know browse from one thing to the next and and and that browsing history won’t be retained or or or or there won’t be any capacity to access that.

SPEERS: Excuse my confusion here, but if if you you are retaining the web address you are retaining the website aren’t you?

BRANDIS: Well the every website has an elec an eel-ectronic address, right?


BRANDIS: Um and….

SPEERS: And that’s recorded

BRANDIS: …whether there’s a connec well wa when a connection is made between ah a one computer terminal and a web ah address, that fact and the time of the cah of the connection and the duration of the connection is what we mean by metadata in that context.

SPEERS: But that is telling you where I’ve been on the web?

BRANDIS: Well it it it it it it it records what web ad wah what eel-ectronic web address has been accessed.

SPEERS: I don’t see the difference between that and what websites…

BRANDIS: Well when you when you when you go to a website ert ert mai commonly ert upurpur you will go from one web page to another li from one link to another to another wer within that website that’s not what we’re interested in.

SPEERS: Okay but ok so the overarching, if I go to Skynews website it’ll tell that but not necessarily the links within that that I go to.


Translation: Everybody just calm down, ASIO aren’t going to collect data on what you look at on the web, they’re just going to collect data on what you look at on the web.

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