Attorney-General Christian Porter has issued aon 5 March 2018, announcing that the Government has devised a number of amendments to National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 (Cth) (the Bill). The amendments address issues that have been raised by submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Committee (the PJCIS Committee), which is currently considering the Bill. The Government hopes that these amendments ensure it will strike the correct balance between keeping Australia safe and not impeding the work of journalists and media organisations.
For more information on the Bill, see TimeBase’s previous article on this topic.
After initially being introduced to the House of Representatives on 7 December 2017 by Mr Turnbull, the Bill is currently before the House of Representatives where it is awaiting further discussion.
This Bill is the part of a five-year process of modernising Australia’s national security laws which the Government believes is vital to protect Australians.
The Attorney-General also noted in histhat he has:
Mr Porter said there has been no intention to unnecessarily restrict appropriate freedoms of the media and that where drafting improvements are identified that strike a better balance, the Government will promote those changes.
The proposed amendments to Schedule 2 of the Bill (which also include amendments to the Crimes Act 1914 and the Criminal Code Act 1995), will:
The amendments also address a number of other concerns including the definition of security classification [in the Criminal Code Act 1995], the breadth of the offence at section 91.3 [also the Criminal Code Act 1995] and the application of strict liability to elements of the offence relating to security classified information.
The next public hearing for the Bill is proposed for 16 March 2018, with the Committee expected to present its report in April 2018. To date, more than 40 submissions relating to the proposed amendments have been received by the Committee.
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Amendments to Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill -
Submissions received by the Committee -
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