West Australian Senator Scott Ludlam believes Prime Minister Tony Abbott is pushing hard for metadata collection in order to keep his job.
The Greens Senator told BuzzFeed News that Mr Abbott is attempting to rush through laws that would impose a $400 million cost to the local telecommunications industry and see all Australian citizens' metadata collected and stored for up to two years.
Senator Ludlam suggested Mr Abbott wants to pass the laws after struggling to push government legislation through the divided Senate in recent months.
"It looks as though he's practically staking his prime ministership on it, that he wants this legislated by the end of March. This has been in the works since 2008: so what's the rush?"
Mr Abbott, whose leadership has come under attack from his own party in recent weeks, today said that the proposal would cost the Australian telecommunications industry about $400 million.
Standing beside anti-child abuse advocates at a press conference on the Gold Coast, Mr Abbott stressed that security agencies needed metadata to catch paedophiles. It represented a shift away from anti-terrorism justifications that he had been used in recent weeks.
"So much of this kind of activity is of this kind of activity is being conducted online and that why we need to keep this data," he said.
Senator Ludlam, seen by Australia's online community as the de-facto "Senator for the Internet", sat down with BuzzFeed News last week to explain his serious concerns about metadata collection being proposed by the government.
He has become the main voice of dissent on the issue.
At several senate committee hearings, Senator Ludlam appears to be the only politician to understand how Australians could bypass the restrictions. He claimed that people looking to bypass the dragnet will be able to use very basic and widely available tools.
"It kind of plugs a big gap in the domestic architecture," he said. "Anybody with a moderate level of technical ability will be able to circumvent it. You can circumvent it entirely using VPN's or Tor. And that's not difficult stuff to implement."
Ludlam freely admits that it is security agencies, led by the Australian Federal Police, that are pushing for the new metadata powers – but says they have found a new friend in Attorney General George Brandis.
"It would make the job a lot easier if we recorded every conversation and carried little video cameras around on our shoulders. It's the job of the committee system in parliament to balance the power of the state relative to the power of the citizenry."
The fate of the metadata component of the latest national security laws is now in the hands of the Labor opposition.
Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare (pictured above) was interviewed by Sky News on Wednesday morning and made a three pronged argument against the laws in the current form: the definition of metadata, the cost of the policy and how metadata could be used to track journalists.
And Mr Clare echoed sentiment expressed from Labor leader Bill Shorten at the start of this week: that Mr Abbott had "politicised" the proposal.
Senator Ludlam said it is time for Labor to get off the fence and take a stand.
"They're being cautiously critiquing it from the sidelines, but I think it's time the Labor Party started behaving like an opposition."