Thursday, 28 June 2018
National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018; In Committee
Thank you; I accept that you've asked the question in a slightly different way. I'll do my best to answer it, but I am going over a little bit of old ground. The answer to the question is that, in order for an offence to apply and for a potential charge or prosecution to occur under this particular provision, there would have to be actions by the person to damage the public infrastructure. With the public infrastructure that I've set out in terms of the definition, it's difficult to know in what circumstances. It's possible that it could be public infrastructure, but that is clearly defined and it may or may not be public infrastructure. But, if all of those were there, you would need the damage to the infrastructure and then, if in fact it is public infrastructure, there would have to be either an intent or recklessness to whether the conduct would prejudice Australia's national security or advance the national security of a foreign country—and, in addition to that, the conduct wouldn't be reasonable in the circumstances.
The government has certainly made it clear that ordinary protests such as picketing an MP's office or a building and the like are not designed to come under the scope of these directions. In terms of the 'reasonableness', the point I would make is that there are a lot of tests that would have to be met. There has to be the damage, it has to be public infrastructure within those definitions, there has to be an intent or recklessness to do damage to Australia's national security and, in addition to that, it wouldn't be reasonable in all of those circumstances for the actions to be taken.