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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7224


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (19:13): Senator Xenophon, thank you for your indication that you propose to support these amendments. The answer to your question is yes. And, as to the reason for the amendment, which has been expressed very well, if I may say so, by Senator Lazarus: you have just expressed it once again yourself—this is information which, if disclosed, could put a man's or woman's life at risk while in the service of their country on a dangerous operation. I am not being rhetorical; that is literally true. As Senator Leyonhjelm has, if I may say so, very wisely observed, we should never make the mistake of thinking that a maximum penalty is the penalty that will necessarily or even commonly be imposed. Of course there is a gradation of considerations to which all courts have regard. This is not a statutory minimum penalty; it is a maximum penalty, and therefore would be reserved for the most serious class of case. So one must ask oneself the question: what is the most serious class of case in which one can imagine the disclosure of the identity of an intelligence services officer?

The answer would be, as you have said Senator Xenophon, a class of case where perhaps that person might lose their life as a result of that malevolent act. Then, I think, a reasonable person would be satisfied that a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment is not an unduly draconian sanction.

The CHAIRMAN: The question is that amendments (3) and (4) on sheet 7564 be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Lazarus, you have amendments (1) and (2); is it still your intention to oppose items 1 to 3 and 7 of schedule 4?

Senator LAZARUS: Yes. I move:

(1) Schedule 4, items 1 to 3, page 72 (lines 5 to 14), to be opposed.

(2) Schedule 4, item 7, page 72 (lines 24 to 29), to be opposed.

The CHAIRMAN: The question is that items 1 to 3 and 7 of schedule 4 stand as printed.

Question negatived.