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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4390

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital TerritoryAssistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation) (17:06): The new espionage offences criminalise a broad range of dealings with information, including possessing or receiving, and protect a broader range of information, including unclassified material. The offences introduce tier defences covering intentional and reckless conduct with commensurate tiered penalties. The new offences will target not only the person who discloses the information but also the actions of the foreign spy who receives the information. The new offences will also criminalise soliciting or procuring a person to engage in espionage and will introduce a new preparation or planning offence. These offences will allow law enforcement agencies to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent the harmful conduct occurring. That is where we are effectively improving the laws.

On the point I made earlier in terms of the type of scenario you were talking about, we have always had, in one form or another, these kinds of secrecy and espionage provisions, and for good reason: because there are always foreign actors or, indeed, Australians acting against the national interest who, in some cases, have engaged in this type of activity, which we need strong laws to prevent. That gives you a summary of what we're seeking to improve through these new pieces of legislation.