Thursday, 6 August 2009

Swapping a psychiatric ward for a prison cell?

Presumably Treasury officer Godwin Grech will eventually face criminal charges for improperly passing on information to the Opposition. The Australian Federal Police are currently studying this question but Section 70 of the Crimes Act is quite clear on the subject:

Disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers

(1) A person who, being a Commonwealth officer, publishes or communicates, except to some person to whom he or she is authorized to publish or communicate it, any fact or document which comes to his or her knowledge, or into his or her possession, by virtue of being a Commonwealth officer, and which it is his or her duty not to disclose, shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) A person who, having been a Commonwealth officer, publishes or communicates, without lawful authority or excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him or her), any fact or document which came to his or her knowledge, or into his or her possession, by virtue of having been a Commonwealth officer, and which, at the time when he or she ceased to be a Commonwealth officer, it was his or her duty not to disclose, shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.

Given the evidence contained in this week’s report by the Auditor General, if Mr Grech is not prosecuted then they might as well scrap Section 70. There are no apparent redeeming features to justify his behaviour in leaking actual material let alone his actions in forging some.

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