Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the Prime Minister of seeking to politicise the process for bringing in anti-terrorism laws.
Tony Abbott wrote to Mr Shorten last month calling on Labor to pass proposed data retention laws by the middle of next month.
The laws would force telecommunications companies to store data about their customers’ phone and internet use for two years.
Mr Shorten’s office has released a letter he wrote to Mr Abbott on February 9 saying Labor supports the bill being dealt with quickly, but only once a committee looking into it has finished its work.
“I am disappointed that recent media briefing has sought to politicise the development and consideration of anti-terrorism legislation,” Mr Shorten wrote.
“This is at odds with a responsible and bipartisan approach to such important issues.”
Mr Shorten said the committee has been informed of a number of concerns about the bill that should be dealt with, including how much keeping the data would cost and its impact on press freedom.
The Opposition Leader said he also wanted to know what kind of data would be kept.
“We should be able to work these issues through but it is important in a democracy that we get the balance right,” Mr Shorten said on Monday.
Mr Abbott on Sunday hinted at a national security crackdown in the wake of the deadly Sydney siege, warning Australia would not let “bad people play us for mugs”.
He will make a security statement next Monday and he is also soon to release a joint review by both the NSW and Commonwealth governments into the Lindt cafe siege, which left two hostages and the gunman dead.
In a video message at the weekend, Mr Abbott said people who might be a threat to Australia had been getting the benefit of the doubt for too long.
“There’s been the benefit of the doubt at our borders, the benefit of the doubt for residency, the benefit of the doubt for citizenship and the benefit of the doubt at Centrelink,” he said.
“And in the courts, there has been bail, when clearly there should have been jail.”
Mr Shorten called on Mr Abbott to explain what the problems are and how he plans to fix them.
“He has said there is softness in the system, well that’s alarming,” he said.
“I think Tony Abbott needs to come clear about where he thinks the softness is and then what we will do is work with him to make sure Australians are safe, that’s our record.”