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Tony Abbott: 'There Were No Metadata Exemptions When I Was A Journalist'

There was no world wide web either.

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The government has promised a different system for journalists under its plans to make Australian telecommunications companies collect and store everyone's data.

"In the days when I was a journalist there were no metadata protections for journalists. If any agency including the RSPCA or the local council had wanted to they could have just gone and got it on authorizations. I was perfectly comfortable [with that] as a journalist," he said on Wednesday.

As website Crikey reported last year, Mr Abbott worked as a journalist for news magazine The Bulletin in the late 80s and briefly for The Australian in the 90s. It's unclear whether Mr Abbott used computers and the embryonic public internet during his time reporting.

"I believe Australian police and security agencies operate in a fair, reasonable and responsible manner. This is an unprecedented, additional level of protection for journalists and I'm pleased we're able to offer it."

Attorney general George Brandis yesterday said agencies would require a warrant to access journalists metadata under the proposed changes.

Also yesterday, the Australian Federal Police admitted to probing journalist's metadata but assured the journalist's union the practice was "rare".