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Monday, December 20, 2010

Kessing's plight, and notorious secrecy law both deserve government attention

Chris Merritt in The Australian puts it to Andrew Wilkie to push for an inquiry into the Kessing affair, a process that might allow the truth to come out and, if so, a conviction to be quashed. Or at least provide a bookend for a pardon for Kessing that the Attorney General's Department regarded as a "Hot Topic" just a few months ago. Any full inquiry would need to be able to consider the whole box and dice including the decision to charge Kessing with a breach of s 70 of the Crimes Act over the report on security at Sydney airport ending up with journalists at The Australian when the Commonwealth DPP had a discretion to not prosecute on public interest grounds; the strength of the conviction on the basis of circumstantial evidence in a trial in which neither Kessing nor the journalists Martin Chulov and Jonathon Porter testified; Kessing's later admission of contact about the report with the office of now Minister Albanese and members of his staff employed while in opposition, and what they did with the information. The Canberra Times reports Senator Xenophon saying it was lawful for Mr Kessing to share his concerns with his MP, but the former Customs officer's lawyer had advised him not to raise the issue at his trial. 

Merritt described section 70 as "the notorious heart of the federal fixation with secrecy" a point picked up by Dr Johan Lidberg in Fairfax papers today in a comment on WikiLeaks.The ALRC report on this and other aspects of hundreds of secrecy laws has been with the Government without response for nine months.

1 comment:

  1. But of course not all legal advice turns out to be sound.