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Government to increase penalty for espionage.



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4 April 2001

GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE PENALTY FOR ESPIONAGE

Espionage is a heinous crime that strikes against all Australians. The penalties for this offence need to fit the crime. In Australia, the maximum penalty under the Crimes Act for espionage is seven years jail. The Government does not believe this reflects the gravity of the crime. It is patently obvious that stiffer penalties are needed.

In the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand a 14-year penalty can be imposed. Australia should be treating espionage as seriously as other countries.

Appropriate penalties are therefore part of my review of the espionage provisions of the Crimes Act. The 14th Security in Government Conference in Canberra today was told that I will be putting the outcomes of that review to Cabinet shortly.

To achieve our national security goals, the Commonwealth has for the first time set minimum standards that are to apply across all government Departments and agencies for the protection of official information, public resources and people. I cannot stress enough the Government’s commitment to improved protective security practices in all Commonwealth agencies

While concentrating on the revised Protective Security Manual 2000 and the significance of its mandatory requirements, this year’s Security in Government conference will also address the security issues associated with outsourcing Government functions.

Up to 300 representatives from various Commonwealth Agencies, private industry, State and Local government are attending the conference being held at

Rydges Hotel Canberra over the next two and a half days.

The delegates are mainly responsible for implementing Commonwealth security policy.

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