find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Secrecy laws under scrutiny: ALRC

Secrecy laws under scrutiny: ALRC

The Australian Law Reform Commission yesterday recommended a comprehensive overhaul of the country's secrecy laws.

The Australian Law Reform Commission yesterday recommended a comprehensive overhaul  of the country's secrecy laws. 

In a discussion paper released yesterday, the ALRC seeks community feedback on its current inquiry into federal secrecy laws, which outlines 65 proposals for reform.

The government's investigation into secrecy laws gathered momentum in August last year, when Attorney General Robert McClelland called for an inquiry into them. "We are committed to open and accountable government and want to ensure that Commonwealth information is only protected where there is a legitimate reason for doing so," he said. 

While secrecy around national security and sensitive personal information is "appropriate and unsurprising", the ALRC's "mapping" of the federal statute book "has identified 507 secrecy provisions scattered across 175 pieces of legislation, including 358 distinct secrecy offences carrying a wide variety of criminal penalties". 

"That’s more reflective of the old culture of secrecy than the current preference for openness," ALRC president Professor David Weisbrot said.

“Information handling, management and protection by the Commonwealth should be seen as part of a continuum. At the open government end, there’s information that should be disclosed as a matter of course. Most departments and agencies now maintain websites that provide an enormous amount of information. 

"This is desirable, both in the interests of promoting open and accountable government, as well as being efficient—the more information that’s publicly available, the fewer requests, questions and FOI applications departmental officers have to handle," said Weisbrot.

The system should be more open and "pro-disclosure culture", ALRC commissioner in charge of the inquiry, Professor Rosalind Croucher said. 

"The ALRC proposes a substantial decrease in the use of criminal sanctions - limiting prosecutions to those unauthorised disclosures in which it is alleged that harm has been caused, or was likely to be caused, to a compelling public interest. 

"These include harm to: national security, defence or international relations; law enforcement operations; the physical safety of a person; or public health," she said. 

The new reforms are aiming to achieve more clarity for public servants and those who handle Commonwealth information, the ALRC said yesterday. 

The Attorney-General will be handed the final report and recommendations in the inquiry at the end of October. 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Secrecy laws under scrutiny: ALRC
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...