TV interview – Channel 9, Today Show
Subjects: National Anti-Corruption Commission; Optus data hack.
KARL STEFANOVIC: The National Anti-Corruption Commission will have the power to examine the actions of politicians, public servants, business and union figures, past and present. He joins us now from Parliament House. Good morning to you, Mark, thanks for your time today. You want to restore truth and integrity in politics, is a step in the right direction that we need these hearings to be open?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL MARK DREYFUS: We need a powerful, transparent and independent anti-corruption commission. We promised the Australian people we were going to do this and we're very proud that we brought a bill to the Parliament yesterday. And, of course, it needs to be able to hold public hearings and it's going to be able to hold public hearings. We think that most of its activities are going to be conducted in private, which is appropriate for this kind of commission. But most importantly, Karl, it's going to be able to make public reports. So, it's not just about holding hearings, whether they're in private or in public. It needs to report to the public when it finds corruption.
STEFANOVIC: But you're trying to restore truth and integrity and politics, but you're doing it behind closed doors. That doesn't make much sense?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: These commissions aren't courts Karl, they need to investigate. They need to do some of their investigations in private. And we need to make sure that they don't, by doing things in public, prejudice subsequent criminal trials. That's a very important thing. But I'll say again, most importantly, they're going to make public reports, the public are going to know when there's been corruption discovered by this commission.
STEFANOVIC: All right. Can we talk about Optus just quickly. People are still struggling to get any information out of the company. I mean, what a debacle?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Yep, it's a debacle. There should never have been this breach. Millions and millions of Australians are really worried about the loss of their private data. We've been working very hard every day for the last week. That's the Treasurer, the Minister for Home Affairs, me, the Minister for Communications, to make sure that the damage done by this breach is repaired. In particular, to see if there's a way in which Optus can give appropriate bits of the data that got lost to banks and financial institutions so that they can take steps to guard against any further harm happening to Australians as a result of this breach.
STEFANOVIC: The horse has bolted, though hasn't it, which is very difficult to arrest. Once it's done you're bringing in this independent agency to protect the data between banks and Optus, like you're saying, or alluding to there, but will that actually protect Australians? And what about those ones who have already lost their data?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We need to make sure that there isn't a loss in the first place. One of the things we're looking at is tougher penalties to give a much bigger incentive to companies to make sure that they take proper precautions to care for the data of Australians that they've been entrusted with. This is a shocking intrusion. People are right to be worried about it. We're doing our level best to make sure that the damage that's been done is corrected. Optus is working with us on that. And we're going to look very hard at whether the laws need to be toughened to make sure that there's a proper incentive to companies to keep the care that is need.
STEFANOVIC: That's a no brainer.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Yep, it is.
STEFANOVIC: Alright, so when will we see the change?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We are hoping to bring some laws in before the end of the year, or if not then, early next year.
STEFANOVIC: Alright, good to talk to you Attorney General appreciate it.