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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7251

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (20:39): I move amendment (6) on sheet 7579:

(6) Schedule 3, item 3, page 70 (line 14), at the end of subsection 35P(3), add:

   ; or (e) of information that has already been disclosed by the Minister, Director-General or Deputy Director-General; or

(f) made reasonably and in good faith, and was in the public interest.

This amendment seeks to add to the list of exceptions to the special intelligence operation disclosure offence. Under this item, a person could claim a defence that the information the person disclosed had already been disclosed by the minister, director-general or deputy director-general. The fact that there is such an amendment required suggests a flaw in the government's drafting. Under the government's drafting, as the bill stands, there is no exclusion from the offence of disclosing SIO information that the government has already authorised for release. Separately, this item would allow a person to claim a defence that the disclosure was made reasonably and in good faith and was in the public interest. This is a tight public interest defence and resembles the public interest defence under section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act which the government is now heavily relying on, given the continuation of 18C. This is an identical defence to what already exists.