11. Concluding comments

As discussed in Chapter 1 of this report, the Committee accepts that there is a pressing need to strengthen and modernise current espionage and foreign interference laws, and supports the intent of the Bill to achieve this outcome. In doing so, the Committee recognises that the Bill proposes to re-write substantially Australia’s criminal laws relating to secrecy, espionage, foreign interference and sabotage.
The Committee agrees that the secrecy provisions—and the other new or substantially broadened provisions of the Bill—should be monitored and reviewed after an appropriate period to ensure they are working as intended. To this end, the Committee recommends an independent review of the provisions after three years.

Recommendation 59

The Committee recommends that, after a period of three years, the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor be required to conduct a review of Division 82 (sabotage), Part 5.2 (espionage, foreign interference, theft of trade secrets), and Part 5.6 (secrecy) of the Criminal Code.
A copy of the report on the independent review should be provided to the Attorney-General, who should be required to provide it to the Committee. Any amendments proposed to be made to the laws as a result of the review should be referred to the Committee for inquiry.
The Committee also notes that there were a number of drafting errors identified during the inquiry, both in the Explanatory Memorandum and in the Bill itself. While the majority of these errors are minor, it is possible that some could have unintended consequences. The Committee considers it essential that these errors are identified and fixed before the Bill passes through the Parliament.

Recommendation 60

The Committee recommends that the Attorney-General’s Department review the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum in detail with a view to making amendments to correct any drafting errors prior to the conclusion of debate in the Parliament.
The Committee thanks the broad range of organisations and individuals who contributed to the Committee’s comprehensive review of the Bill.
Mr Andrew Hastie MP
June 2018

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