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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4286

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital TerritoryAssistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation) (11:17): Senator, it goes to the nature of the offence, and that is in relation to being covert and deceptive in seeking to influence the decision-maker.

Let's go back, again, to your example with the foreign minister—we could use other examples. If the situation is that the Catholic priest—in this circumstance; it could be a foreign minister or any other minister—was making the advocacy but in some way was being deceptive or hiding who they were and who they represented, then that is a different circumstance. What you are suggesting is that, simply because someone has meetings or private discussions which are not public, that would somehow engage that definition of being covert. What we're talking about here is that the offence is very clearly aimed at penalising deceptive and covert conduct in terms of that communication and that attempt to influence. It would clearly be designed to deceive or to hide the truth in terms of the nature of the representations, but most particularly to hide those who are making them and on whose behalf they do it.

Again, going back to your clearest example, the fact that it is communicated on a private messaging app or, indeed, behind closed doors, does not in any way make it covert or deceptive, because it's very clear the individual who is making the representations.