7.1          Commonwealth secrecy offences include a range of exceptions and defences—for example, disclosure in the course of an officer’s duties, or for the purposes of an Act, or disclosure of information that is already in the public domain. Protection from criminal liability under secrecy offences may also arise as a result of public interest disclosure (or ‘whistleblower’) legislation. This chapter considers which exceptions or defences should be included in the ALRC’s recommended general secrecy offence and subsequent disclosure offences.[1] It will also consider the interaction of these offences with public interest disclosure legislation proposed by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and discussed in Chapter 2.[2] Finally, the chapter considers the penalties that should apply for breach of the general secrecy offence and the subsequent disclosure offences.

[1]           Recommendations 5–1, 6–6, 6–7.

[2]           Australian Parliament—House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Whistleblower Protection: A Comprehensive Scheme for the Commonwealth Public Sector (2009).