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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7253


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (20:47): I move amendment (7) on sheet 7579:

(7) Schedule 3, item 3, page 70 (after line 16), after subsection 35P(3), insert:

   (3A) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if:

   (a) the person informed the Organisation about the proposed disclosure at least 24 hours before making the disclosure; and

   (b) the disclosure did not include information on the identities of participants of a special intelligence operation, or on a current special intelligence operation; and

(c) the information concerns corruption or misconduct in relation to a special intelligence operation.

Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in this subsection—see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

This amendment represents a separate and specific defence for the offence of disclosing special intelligence operation information. The amendment is proposing a new and specific defence. Under this amendment, a person could claim a defence if the person informed ASIO of the proposed disclosure of information at least 24 hours before the disclosure and the disclosure did not identify participants in an SIO, and the disclosure did not include information on a current SIO, and the information concerns corruption or misconduct in relation to an SIO. This is very important, in my view.

What we are looking for here is scope for somebody to report on corruption and misconduct. The argument might be that disclosure of such information may divulge sensitive information and disrupt an otherwise legitimate SIO. This amendment would allow an exemption only where that information is disclosed to ASIO for at least 24 hours, did not identify participants in a special intelligence operation, did not include information on a current SIO and related to corruption or misconduct. An exception from disclosure offences for instances of corruption and misconduct is found in law applying to the AFP.