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Tuesday, 3 December 1974
Page: 3056


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - The answer seems to lie in the Crimes Act of this Parliament, section 70 of which reads:

A person who, being a Commonwealth officer, publishes or communicates, except to some person to whom he is authorised to publish or communicate it, any fact or document which comes to his knowledge or into his possession by virtue of his office and which it is his duty not to disclose shall be guilty of an offence.

There is also a provision in relation to a person who has been an officer and who does that. A penalty of imprisonment is provided. That seems to be the offence. It is dealt with directly under our law. Let us take the type of case to which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has referred and let us suppose that a person disclosed some military secret or some other matter which clearly it was his duty not to disclose. He would be guilty of an offence. It is much more satisfactory to cover the legal obligations precisely and specifically in some form of law than to leave it to some vague oath or affirmation, particularly when one takes into consideration the other disadvantages which flow from requiring the oath or affirmation to which I have referred. One should realise that there are provisions and that there will no doubt continue to be provisions of some kind in the law dealing with a breach of duty in the case of such a disclosure. Therefore, is not the course correct that the Parliament previously took, that is, to bring us into line with the public services of the States and the British Civil Service?







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