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Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Page: 2850


Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Cabinet Secretary) (18:57): I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

The proposed government amendments to the Royal Commissions Amendment Bill are designed to strengthen the confidentiality of information received at a private session. The bill includes measures that will serve to protect the privacy of persons giving information at a private session. The royal commission was consulted in the preparation of the bill. Since the bill was introduced the government has continued to work with the commission and the commission has formed the view that further assurances should be given to protect the confidentiality of private sessions.

There are three main amendments to strengthen confidentiality in the bill. The offence in the bill for unauthorised use or disclosure of information obtained at a private session is extended to override legal demands to access the information such as through a subpoena. Secondly, an amendment is proposed to the Freedom of Information Act to exclude a right of access to documents containing personal session information. Thirdly, an amendment is proposed so that records containing information obtained at a private session would come into the open access period under the Archives Act 99 years after the year the record came into existence.

The other amendments are consequential to or related to these three amendments. These amendments have been passed now by the Senate, and I commend them to the House.

Question agreed to.