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Thursday, 8 September 1983
Page: 640

Question No. 184

Mr Burr asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 19 May 1983:

(1) What (a) obligations are placed on officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to keep confidential any information that comes into their possession, (b) security measures are taken to ensure confidentiality of information within ASIO and (c) disciplinary action is taken if officers of ASIO breach confidentiality.

(2) When was the last occasion when disciplinary action was taken against an officer of ASIO for a breach of confidentiality.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) (a) Section 18 (2) of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act 1979 makes it an offence for a current or former member of the Organisation to communicate information which was acquired or prepared by the Organisation in connection with its functions, unless authorised to do so. Maintaining such confidentiality is also a condition of officers' employment.

(b) Internal measures directed to ensuring confidentiality are established and are reviewed on a regular basis. It would not be appropriate to give details of them.

(c) The Director-General of Security would take appropriate action in the event of any breach of internal requirements directed to maintaining confidentiality. In appropriate circumstances, prosecution action would be taken.

(2) In recent years, only one ASIO officer has been involved in a substantial breach of confidentiality. That occurred in 1977 and the officer concerned was prosecuted.