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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7843

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (10:33 AM) —The government opposes opposition amendment (30) and Democrat amendment (4), but I will confine my remarks to the opposition amendment. What the opposition is saying is that anyone who appears before a prescribed authority must never disclose information about the questioning unless authorised by a prescribed authority to do so. A similar provision is proposed for lawyers who provide advice to those subject to a warrant.

When you look at the National Crime Authority model, secrecy obligations apply to those who provide information in a compulsory process. However, those obligations do not last forever; they exist until the law enforcement investigation is completed or until the person is released from that obligation. We believe that the opposition amendment goes too far. We believe that it could possibly deprive the person concerned of the option of seeking further legal advice or taking further action. We do not believe that it is necessary in the interests of security to have it in the form that secrecy lasts until the prescribed authority releases a person from that obligation. We believe that the opposition amendment is not necessary and that, in the process, the person who is the subject of that obligation is deprived of various remedies.