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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4283


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (11:00): Minister, I have some questions in relation to section 92.2. First of all, I'm grateful for your response to my earlier comments on that matter. Also, I express some sympathy for the fact that you have to seek advice to each response. I imagine that you've probably had no more time to consider this bill than we've had and therefore you are at the same disadvantage as we are. Nonetheless, section 92.2 says:

(1) A person commits an offence if …

      (i) the person engages in the conduct … in collaboration with, a foreign principal or a person acting on behalf of a foreign principal—

and—

… the conduct is directed, funded or supervised by a foreign principal—

and they intend that it will—

… influence a political or governmental process—

and—

   (d) any part of the conduct:

      (i) is covert …

I was listening very intently during your summing up, although I wasn't in the chamber, and you commented that the covert aspect—and I note that 'covert' is not defined anywhere in the bill—had to relate to the influence in relation to the political or government process. How do you arrive at that conclusion? Section 92.2(1)(d) specifically says 'any part of the conduct'. That would seem to include covert conduct between the person and the foreign principal.