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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4344

National Security


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:15): This question is to the Minister representing the Attorney-General in the Senate. It relates to the filing of criminal charges by Ms Sarah McNaughton SC, the Commonwealth DPP—

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Macdonald! Please continue, Senator McKim.

Senator McKIM: against distinguished lawyer Bernard Collaery and his client Witness K, an unnamed officer of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, for alleged breaches of article 39 of the Intelligence Services Act. Did any member of the Australian government or their staff have any prior knowledge that Ms McNaughton was going to file these charges and, if so, what was the nature of that knowledge?




Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:16): Thank you, Senator McKim. I don't have knowledge of the matters that you're raising, so I'll take that on notice.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, a supplementary question.



Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:16): I hope that includes a commitment to return to the chamber as soon as possible with a response. Minister, the previous A-G, Senator Brandis, threatened Mr Collaery with prosecution right here in the Senate 4½ years ago. Last month the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties finally held public hearings on a new Timor Sea treaty, and, immediately afterwards, Ms McNaughton filed charges. Are those two events linked?


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:16): Senator McKim, as with the first question, I will endeavour to come back to the chamber with a response to you at the earliest opportunity.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, a final supplementary question.



Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:17): Minister, prosecutions of this type can only be instituted by, or with the consent of, the Attorney-General. Please provide details of whether the Attorney-General instituted these charges or consented to them. Please provide details of the date on which either of those events occurred. Can you assure the Senate that these criminal proceedings against Mr Collaery are not politically motivated? (Time expired)


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:17): Senator McKim, I will help you to the extent I'm able to.