04 June 2018

Espionage bill betrays our democracy

The Federal Government’s proposed espionage laws attack the democratic rights of everyday Australians and journalists.


The Federal Government’s proposed espionage laws attack the democratic rights of everyday Australians and journalists, GetUp has warned.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Security and Intelligence will this week hand down its report into the controversial Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill, which has attracted criticism from journalists, universities, and civil society organisations.

GetUp national director Paul Oosting said the dangerous bill would introduce life sentences for the peaceful exercise of civil liberties, erode democratic rights and press freedoms, and decrease government accountability.

“The suggestion that it is about reducing offshore influence in our political system is a farce. At its core, this legislation is an attempt to protect the Turnbull Government from criticism from its own citizens. ”

“This bill represents a huge threat to our democracy. For example, the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against Australia’s involvement in the Iraq War could now, were this Bill to become legislation, face up to 20 years in prison.

“Protesting against our government’s treatment of people seeking asylum under international law would put you at risk of a hefty jail sentence.

“This Bill also criminalises behaviour that is unquestionably in the public interest. If a person discloses evidence of government illegality to the media, and that information is considered to ‘prejudice Australia’s economic or political relations’, that person, the reporter and publisher could face 25 years in prison.

“Supporting this Bill will be a betrayal of our democracy. Unless this legislation is to be drastically redrafted, GetUp members will make sure each and every politician who supports it is held accountable for their actions.”

A factsheet on the Bill’s impact on civil society can be found here