Thursday, 15 June 2023
Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022; In Committee
I think Senator Cash has got ahead of herself in terms of dealing with some amendments, but we can address those later. The question of whether or not a disclosure had been in the public interest will be decided by a superior court of record. That's who will make these decisions—a member of the judiciary. The Greens have faith in the ability of our judiciary to weigh up the considerations and make a decision as to whether or not a disclosure is in the public interest. The argument that this would create a 'staggering' extension of the PID Act, I think, misunderstands the narrow cast of the proposed amendment in 50A, which relates to the requirements set out in column 3. It's not a complete expungement of all the requirements under the PID Act—only of those that are set out in column 3 and only in circumstances where the disclosure was in good faith and where there had been that attempt to meet the legal requirements.
I understand the response that we got from the opposition that this would have national security implications, but what I would suggest is this: preventing people from telling the truth about war crimes has far greater national security implications. Preventing people from telling the truth about gross missteps by our defence forces or our national security apparatus or the parliament has far greater national security consequences. And if there is an aversion within our national security apparatus to truth-telling, well, that's an aversion that I think the national security apparatus should be taken to task for.
And of course if we want to see the most extreme case of a national security apparatus viciously fighting against truth-telling, we can look at what our purported closest ally is doing in trying to jail, for the rest of his natural life, an Australian citizen, Julian Assange. That's where the coalition's arguments end up, that kind of brutal state security apparatus action against a whistleblower—wanting to put them in jail for life or telling some ugly truths about how power is exercised by our government or one of our allies' governments. We commend the amendments to the chamber.