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Review of secrecy provisions – consultation paper released

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

The Albanese Government has today commenced public consultations as part of its landmark review of Commonwealth secrecy offences.

The consultation paper, which advances the Government’s press freedom agenda, includes a complete list of the Commonwealth’s secrecy offences.

Secrecy offences play an important role in preventing the unauthorised disclosure of information which can undermine national security and harm the public interest. However, multiple reviews have raised concerns about the number, inconsistency, appropriateness and complexity of Commonwealth secrecy offences.

A comprehensive review of Commonwealth secrecy offences was first recommended by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in 2020 but the former government never completed a review, and never made any work public.

The Albanese Government is progressing this important project by launching a six-week public consultation process seeking views on the operation of secrecy provisions, including:

  • what principles should govern the framing of general and specific secrecy offences in Commonwealth legislation
  • whether any general or specific secrecy offences should be amended or repealed
  • what defences should be available for general and specific secrecy offences
  • what principles should govern the framing of the public interest journalism defence and should any amendments be considered.

All interested stakeholders are invited to make submissions to ensure the review is informed by a broad range of expertise and perspectives.

Submissions for the consultation process close on 4 May 2023 and the review’s final report will be delivered to Government by 30 June 2023.

The review’s consultation paper can be accessed on the Attorney-General’s Department website.