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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2901


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (13:55): I want to make a brief contribution towards this debate on the Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017, as chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, which conducted an inquiry into the bill. Most of the other speakers have gone through the bill in some detail, so I won't. I will say that the committee carefully considered the information provided by all of the submitters, to which Senator McKim referred—that is, that the proposed offence may violate Australia's human rights obligations; that it goes beyond its stated intention; that there may be unintended consequences, such as limiting freedom of speech and political satire; and that exemptions should be unambiguous. The committee carefully considered all of those submissions and the sorts of things Senator McKim spoke about. The committee weighed these concerns with the fact that the proposed offences almost mirror the current offences for impersonating a Commonwealth official, including the form in which the proposed exemption has been articulated.

Additionally, the committee notes—and this is very important—that the human rights committee, which looked into the bill, and the Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, which is a Labor majority committee, reported that they had no scrutiny or human rights concerns in relation to this amendment. Ultimately, the committee was of the view that the bill is both proportionate and necessary, and the committee was able to recommend that the bill be passed. I wish to, as chairman of the committee, thank the committee secretariat and, indeed, all of those who took the time to make a submission to the committee. The committee, obviously, supports the bill. I support the bill.