Talking about the border force legislation

I've had a few emails about the Border Force Act. Unfortunately some of reporting in relation to this legislation has left out some important details. I've had the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with a medical students' association, who wrote to me about the legislation on 16 July. Our exchange follows, for those interested.

Email from AMSA of 16 July

Australian Medical Students' Association

Border Force Act (2015)
Dear Ms Terri Butler,
I am a constituent and a member of the Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA). AMSA is the peak representative body of Australia's 17,000 medical students and AMSA and I share grave concerns with the recent Border Force Bill (2015) which came into effect in July 2015. Under this legislation, doctors may be imprisoned for up to 2 years for undertaking professional obligations and reporting breaches in health care and service provision; for instance reporting child sexual abuse to the public.

The medical profession has a long history of advocating in the best interests of patients. This is a fundamental tenet and core ethical principle of medical practice, reflected in codes of medical ethics from all international and national medical associations. For instance, the World Medical Association (WMA), the peak representative body of medical professionals worldwide, states in the International Code of Medical Ethics doctors must “act in the patient's best interest when providing medical care.”[1]

It is recognised that doctors are often put in positions of conflict with their employers or 3rd parties when providing care. In Australia, the Medical Board of Australia (MBA), the body which registers all doctors, states in its Code of Conduct[2]: Good medical practice involves:
5.3 Using your expertise and influence to protect and advance the health and wellbeing of individual patients, communities and populations.
8.11.1 When these interests compromise, or might reasonably be perceived by an independent observer to compromise, the doctor’s primary duty to the patient, doctors must recognise and resolve this conflict in the best interests of the patient.
Doctors are bound by this Code and failure to abide by it can result in a doctor’s medical registration being revoked.

Australian doctors have raised concerns for many years regarding the health of refugees and asylum seekers in detention. Recent examples include:
• Medical and other health staff who signed an open letter regarding sexual abuse in Nauru[3]
• An open letter from past International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) describing the appalling health conditions on Christmas Island[4]
• Professor David Isaacs detailing poor conditions on Nauru[5]
• The case an 11 year old boy with a severely fractured arm without surgical intervention for over a month being raised by doctors[6]
The Act may result in doctors who take similar actions being prosecuted. Although the Public Interest Disclosure Act (2013) provides some protection for those who report maladministration, this defence has yet to be tested. Furthermore, doctors who report malpractice or poor conditions leading to chronic illness, rather than an acute, life-threatening situation, are unlikely to be granted immunity.

The Border Force Bill is a direct attack on a clinician’s ability to perform his/her ethical duty. Its very nature contravenes the Code of Conduct doctors must abide by to practice within Australia and the act may result in criminal prosecution for doctors who are only engaging in their professional ethical responsibilities. The medical profession has been unanimous in its strong condemnation of this bill.

Furthermore, the Bill is not just an attack on the clinical independence and ethical capacity of the medical profession, but a restriction on freedom of speech and the fundamental right of a citizen of a liberal democracy to question and criticise his/her elected representatives.

AMSA and the peak medical representative organisations are unequivocally opposed to this legislation. AMSA’s recommendations are as follows:
1. Repeal the Border Force Act legislation;
2. Ensure there are adequate protections for those reporting in the best interests of patients whether there are acute or chronic harms

I would like to know your personal views on this legislation, as a parliamentarian elected in a liberal democracy that values transparency and freedom of speech. The views of parliamentarians will be collated and distributed to our members and the public. Non-responses will also be noted. AMSA’s questions are:

1. Do you personally support this legislation? Why?
2. Do you believe it is appropriate that doctors may be jailed for 2 years for reporting substandard medical care or poor conditions?
3. As an elected representative within a liberal democracy, do you believe this Act is a threat to transparency, freedom of speech and a citizen’s right to question its government?
4. In the context where a doctor has a professional obligation to report and act upon substandard care and failure to abide by this may result in registration repercussions, what is your advice to a doctor working in immigration detention who reports substandard care to their employer but no action is taken by that employer?

[yours faithfully, etc]

My email in response, 16 July

Dear all,

Thank you for emailing me about this legislation. Your concerns are very serious. Like all Labor parliamentarians I am greatly concerned about the conditions of immigration detention, and the delays in making refugee status determinations, under this Coalition government.

I appreciate hearing from stakeholders in relation to legislation. The border force legislation, for example, was before the parliament for three months before being passed. It was the subject of a senate inquiry, to which the public was able to make submissions. Submissions were made and a report was published, which you’ve no doubt read. There was no minority report. I think that was a useful opportunity for input. I also welcome the opportunity for further consultation and engagement.

In order to respond to your enquiries I’d like to better understand your concerns. In order for me to meet your timeframe, could you provide responses to the following questions by 24 July 2015?


Question 1

The Border Force legislation provides for the following exceptions (among others) to the secrecy provision:

“47 Disclosure with consent
An entrusted person may disclose protected information that relates to the affairs of a person or body if:
(a) the person or body has consented to the disclosure; and
(b) the disclosure is in accordance with that consent.”

Section 48 provides the following further exception to the secrecy provision:

“48 Disclosure to reduce threat to life or health
An entrusted person may disclose protected information if:
(a) the entrusted person reasonably believes that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to the life or health of an individual; and
(b) the disclosure is for the purposes of preventing or lessening that threat.”

Given those exceptions, why do you say that the Border Force Act may result in doctors, who take similar actions to those you’ve listed, being prosecuted?

Question 2
You say that doctors who report malpractice or poor conditions leading to chronic illness, rather than an acute, life-threatening situation, are unlikely to be granted immunity under the public interest disclosure legislation (the whistleblower laws that Labor introduced when we were in government). My next question seeks to better understand the source of this concern about the whistleblower laws. However, I would also appreciate it if you could tell me why doctors would need to rely on the whistleblower laws for a defence in that regard, given the exception to the secrecy provision in section 48 of the border force legislation, which I’ve set out above.

Question 3
You say that the Public Interest Disclosure Act (2013) provides some protection for those who report “maladministration”. The Public Interest Disclosure Act states, in section 29(1), that it applies to the following disclosable conduct:

1. Conduct that contravenes a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.
2. Conduct, in a foreign country, that contravenes a law that:
(a) is in force in the foreign country; and
(b) is applicable to the agency, public official or contracted service provider; and
(c) corresponds to a law in force in the Australian Capital Territory.
3. Conduct that:
(a) perverts, or is engaged in for the purpose of perverting, or attempting to pervert, the course of justice; or
(b) involves, or is engaged in for the purpose of, corruption of any other kind.
4. Conduct that constitutes maladministration, including conduct that:
(a) is based, in whole or in part, on improper motives; or
(b) is unreasonable, unjust or oppressive; or
(c) is negligent.
5. Conduct that is an abuse of public trust.
6. Conduct that is:
(a) fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or deception, in relation to:
(i) proposing scientific research; or
(ii) carrying out scientific research; or
(iii) reporting the results of scientific research; or
(b) misconduct relating to scientific analysis, scientific evaluation or the giving of scientific advice.
7. Conduct that results in the wastage of:
(a) relevant money (within the meaning of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013); or
(b) relevant property (within the meaning of that Act); or
(c) money of a prescribed authority; or
(d) property of a prescribed authority.
8. Conduct that:
(a) unreasonably results in a danger to the health or safety of one or more persons; or
(b) unreasonably results in, or increases, a risk of danger to the health or safety of one or more persons.
9. Conduct that:
(a) results in a danger to the environment; or
(b) results in, or increases, a risk of danger to the environment.
10. Conduct of a kind prescribed by the PID rules.

Subsection 29(2) adds further instances of disclosable conduct. I’d appreciate some insight as to:
• Given to breadth of ‘disclosable conduct’, why have you referred only to maladministration?
• Also, why do you say that the public interest disclosure immunity is unlikely to apply to doctors who report malpractice or poor conditions leading to chronic illness, rather than an acute, life-threatening situation?

Question 4
The border force bill provides a secrecy provision to protect personal and confidential information, and then provides a series of exceptions – that is, situations where that secrecy provision does not apply. I’ve repeated some, but not all, of those exceptions above. The border force bill secrecy provision does not apply specifically or only to doctors – it is a provision that applies across the agency, including to customs officials and immigration officials who form part of the new “border force”.
• Are you seeking the repeal of that provision only insofar as it relates to doctors, or more generally?
• For example, should customs officials not have an obligation of secrecy (noting that this provision replaced a similar provision that was formerly in the customs legislation)?

Question 5
Like the border force legislation, Queensland’s Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 contains a confidentiality provision to protect personal and confidential information, and then provides a series of exceptions – that is, situations where the confidentiality provision does not apply. If you read the provisions of Part 7 of that Act - https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/H/HHNA11.pdf - you will see those provisions (of which I expect you’re already aware). Queensland also has whistleblowing laws. Given the similarities, would you make the same criticisms of Queensland’s health and hospitals legislation as you have made of the border force legislation?

Thanks again for taking the time to write to me about these important issues. I look forward to your responses, which will assist me in understanding you enquiries and meeting your request for me to respond to them by the 31st of July.

Best wishes

Terri Butler MP
07 3899 4031

AMSA's response of 27 July

Dear Terri Butler,
Thank you for your extensive reply to our concerns regarding the Border Force Act 2015 (BFA). This is a matter of great concern for doctors and other health professionals, and we appreciate the time you have taken to respond. We apologise for missing your deadline for response of the 24th July.

Question 1
You mention that sections 47 and 48 of the BFA provide exceptions to the secrecy provisions and indicate that these should be sufficient to protect doctors from being prosecuted.

Section 47 allows disclosure of protected information by an entrusted person relating to the affairs of a person or body if that person or body consents to the disclosure and the disclosure is carried out in accordance with that consent. This provision does not address our concerns in any way. AMSA believes that most of the issues that doctors want protection for disclosing are not ones where permission would be given to disclose them. Most issues of concern are systemic and a problem with the body in place overseeing immigration detention centres. Whether this be the DIBP, ABF or the governments of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. None of these bodies would consent to the disclosure of information that may expose flaws in their processes.

The issue with section 48 is within the wording, “reasonably believes that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to the life or health of an individual” with emphasis on “serious” and “individual.” This is a high bar to cross and there are many occasions where the courts may not consider there to be a “serious” threat to an individual. Furthermore, chronic issues related to conditions may manifest as a moderate level of mental illness in many individuals (rather than a life-threatening or serious event in an individual). The burden of illness is thus still important, but a health professional would not be protected in speaking out about this under the BFA.

Question 2
The rationale for concerns regarding the inadequate protections in the BFA are laid out above.

Section 25 of the PIDA mentions “(a) The discloser believes on reasonable grounds that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health or safety of one or more persons or to the environment.” The terms “substantial and imminent” may be narrowly interpreted so that many important disclosures may not be covered. For example, disclosures regarding threats to mental health, child development, or environmental conditions, which are unacceptable but may not pose an “imminent” danger are not necessarily protected. Furthermore, the Act expressly precludes whistleblowers from disclosing “sensitive law enforcement information”, the definition of which is ambiguous and could arguably be applied to the entire process of detention.

Question 3
It is true that the PIDA involves a substantial breadth of protections. Many of these would not apply to doctors and other health professionals who disclose health related information. We had received independent legal advice about this matter and only certain sections of the PIDA were quoted. The advice received is that particular clauses that specifically relate to health in the PIDA contain the phrase “substantial and imminent” as discussed above. Although section 29(1) mentions:
8. Conduct that:
(a) unreasonably results in a danger to the health or safety of one or more persons; or
(b) unreasonably results in, or increases, a risk of danger to the health or safety of one or more persons.
The fact that medical indemnity insurers are unwilling to confirm that doctors can disclose information without fear of reprisal indicates there is some risk. If the intent of the legislation is not to deter health professionals from speaking out about health related matters, AMSA asks that the legislation is amended to specifically exclude doctors and other health professionals.

Question 4
AMSA is asking for a carve out for doctors and other health professionals.

Question 5
We would not make the same arguments against Queensland’s health and hospitals legislation as we have against the BFA legislation. For reasons that I hope we have made clear above there are some very specific issues with the BFA and how disclosure will relate to offshore detention centres and in response to Australian Government ministers and policy. It is our belief that the Queensland legislation is sufficient in protecting doctors who disclose in QLD. Furthermore, the Queensland legislation is designed to protect the confidentiality and privacy of patients. The Border Force Act is not designed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient equivalents - refugees and asylum seekers. Disclosure of information with consent of the refugee/asylum seeker would still be considered illegal, whereas disclosure of information with patient consent in Australia is legal.

We hope that clarifies some of our concerns. From a simple perspective, we believe that the safeguards in the BFA and PIDA are not adequate. However even if doctors and health professionals are unlikely to be charged, we believe provisions in the BFA will deter doctors and other health professionals from engaging in their professional duties. Therefore we are requesting a specific exemption for doctors and health professionals.

Thank you once again for your time, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

[etc]

My response of the same day, 27 July

Dear Jordan

Thank you for your email. With respect, I am in disagreement with some of it.

For example, I am not sure how you can assert that “the Border Force Act is not designed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient equivalents - refugees and asylum seekers”. Section 42(1) of the Act seems to me to oblige departmental staff, contractors and consultants, including doctors among others, not to disclose personal information about refugees and asylum seekers. I would think section 51 (which relates to the interaction with the Privacy Act) makes it pretty clear that refugees’ and asylum seekers’ personal information is among the types of protected information covered by section 42(1).

At this stage I think it is most useful to follow up, by putting the following couple of questions to you.

Substantive questions
It seems to me that rather than seeking the repeal of the Border Force legislation, as originally requested in your first email, you’re actually seeking a blanket exception, for doctors and other health professionals, from the operation of section 42(1). As you know, section 42(1) relates to, among other things, information that a doctor obtains about a patient (who is a detainee), in their course of their work for the Department. If there was a blanket exclusion from the operation of section 42(1), then that would seem to leave the doctor with no legal obligation to maintain patient confidentiality in those circumstances. In other words, there’d be no equivalent to section 142(1) of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld). That would seem to me to be an unsatisfactory result. Do you agree?

If you do agree, then that necessitates the conclusion that there should not be a blanket exclusion, for doctors and health professionals, from the operation of section 42(1) of the border force act. That being the case, do you say that the existing carve-outs should be broadened, or that some other, additional carve-out should be included? For example, I note your concern about the use of the word “serious” in section 48. Do you suggest alternative language, such as “genuine”? If so, would that resolve the majority of your concerns? Would you also be assisted by an obligation to report abuse, as Bill Shorten announced during our conference over the weekend?

Process questions
I understand your original email was sent to a number of MPs. Given you now:
• acknowledge that, under the border force legislation, doctors are able to disclose ‘serious’ threats to someone’s life or health, and that your actual concern is to allow them to disclose, also, threats that may not be found to be ‘serious’; and
• seem to say that your concerns were partly based on incomplete legal advice about the whistleblower protection legislation,
do you intend to write to the other MPs and Senators to whom you’ve sent your original email, to clarify? If so, will you do so in enough time to allow them to read and consider your email before your requested response date of this Friday?

Thank you again for your email of today’s date. Given the timeframe that you have sought to impose, I request your urgent response.

Best wishes

Terri Butler

My email of 3 August

Dear Jordan and all,

I don’t seem to have received a response, from you, to my email of the 27th of July. Nonetheless here are my answers to your original questions. In the event you provide a response to my email of 27 July, it may be appropriate for me to provide supplementary answers.

1. Do you personally support this legislation? Why?
As you know the Australian Border Force Act 2015 establishes an Australian Border Force within the relevant government department, and establishes an Australian Border Force Commissioner of the Australian Border Force, who is to have the control of the operations of the Australian Border Force. The Act also provides that the Australian Border Force Commissioner and APS employees in the Australian Border Force are able to exercise powers under the Customs Act 1901 , the Migration Act 1958 , the Maritime Powers Act 2013 and other Commonwealth laws. The Act gives the Australian Border Force Commissioner power to give directions to Immigration and Border Protection workers to do with the administration and control of the operations of the Australian Border Force or the performance of functions or exercise of powers by such workers under a law of the Commonwealth. There are resignation and termination provisions that apply to all APS employees in the Department in circumstances involving serious misconduct. The new Act provides that all Immigration and Border Protection workers may be required to undergo an alcohol screening test, an alcohol breath test, an alcohol blood test or a prohibited drug test. There are secrecy and disclosure provisions covering information obtained by the Secretary, the Australian Border Force Commissioner and Immigration and Border Protection workers. The latter includes people who provide services under contracts even if they’re not directly employed by the Commonwealth. The new Act provides that the Secretary may give directions to Immigration and Border Protection workers to do with the administration and control of the Department or the performance of functions or exercise of powers by such workers under a law of the Commonwealth. The foregoing is an outline of the contents of the legislation that was passed. I will take your question as being specifically about whether I support the secrecy and disclosure provisions. I note that since your original email, you seem to now be indicating that you support the legislation generally, you just want “a carve out for doctors and other health professionals”.

I think it is not unreasonable that public servants, and others providing services on behalf of the state, especially those (like doctors) who have access to highly personal information, be given a prima facie obligation to keep matters confidential, subject to clear carveouts for circumstances in which that obligation does not apply. As you know, the secrecy and disclosure provisions of this legislation are analogous to the confidentiality and disclosure provisions of Queensland’s Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011. I note that you have asserted to me that the difference is that the “Border Force Act is not designed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient equivalents - refugees and asylum seekers”. However, and despite my request, you haven’t provided the basis for that assertion. Section 42(1) of the Act seems to me to oblige departmental staff, contractors and consultants, including doctors among others, not to disclose personal information about refugees and asylum seekers. I would think section 51 (which relates to the interaction with the Privacy Act) makes it pretty clear that refugees’ and asylum seekers’ personal information is among the types of protected information covered by section 42(1). Similarly, section 142 of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 obliges doctors and others not to disclose personal information.

If you accept that doctors and others should have a prima facie obligation to keep information, including patients’ information, confidential, when the question becomes one of the circumstances in which that obligation ought not apply. By operation of the border force legislation, there are many circumstances in which the obligation to keep information confidential does not apply. There are existing carve outs, including, among others:
• The right to disclose where the person whose information you’re disclosing consents – for example the right to disclose a patient’s information where that patient consents;
• The right to disclose where disclosure is authorised by law (such as under whistleblower laws, or for that matter under professional registration laws);
• The right to disclose where there’s a serious risk to life or health.

Of course I support the existence of carve outs to ensure that the obligation of confidence is not absolute, and to ensure that confidences can be broken in such situations. The question is whether the present carve outs are adequate. You and I have had an exchange about, for example, whether the “life and health” carve out is sufficient. You have argued that because only “serious” threats are covered by that carve out, it might be difficult for doctors and others to rely upon it. If that is the case, then that does not necessitate the conclusion that a prima facie obligation of confidence, with an exception for risks to health and life, is in appropriate. To the contrary, it necessitates the conclusion that the way in which the carve out is written may need improvement. Similarly, if there is a situation not clearly covered by an existing carve out, then that would seem to be an argument for an additional carve out, not to scrap the prima facie obligation of confidentiality.

2. Do you believe it is appropriate that doctors may be jailed for 2 years for reporting substandard medical care or poor conditions?
Despite my invitation for you to do so, you have not mounted a persuasive case that this is likely to occur under the border force legislation, particularly given the several carve outs to which I’ve referred in my answer to your other questions. Nor have you explained why a doctor is any more likely to breach section 42 of the border force legislation than he or she is to breach section 142 of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011. The Australian Border Force Act has now been in force for a month. Several doctors and others have, in that time, expressed concerns about the conditions in detention centres, including in an open letter published in the Guardian. I’m not aware that any one of them has been threatened with prosecution.

3. As an elected representative within a liberal democracy, do you believe this Act is a threat to transparency, freedom of speech and a citizen’s right to question its government?
In our social democracy individual freedoms important, as are the interests of the community as a whole. A range of laws curtail transparency and freedom of speech:
• the common law restraints on freedom of speech such as defamation, injurious falsehood, and passing off laws;
• legislative obligations in relation to copyright, defamation, fair trading, and other civil matters
• restrictions on racial vilification and other hate speech,
• criminal laws against inciting, perjury, criminal breaches of privacy,
• privacy legislation,
• the confidentiality obligations in legislation like the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 and for that matter the Commonwealth Public Service Regulations,
and more. In each of those examples the legislature and the courts have been put to the complex task of balancing competing interests and rights. The border force legislation also seeks to strike a balance between the interest in keeping information confidential, and the interest in being able to disclose information in various circumstances. This isn’t simple. Improvements can be made. (For example, Labor has indicated we’d support a provision for mandatory reporting of abuse.)

As I said above, several doctors and others have, in that time, expressed concerns about the conditions in detention centres, including in an open letter published in the Guardian. I’m not aware that any one of them has been threatened with prosecution. Given how many people have expressed an opinion about the conditions in detention centres, asylum seeker and refugee policy, the border force legislation, and related issues, and given the forcefulness with which they’ve expressed their views, I doubt anyone would seriously claim that the border force legislation has impeded anyone’s right to question his or her government.

4. In the context where a doctor has a professional obligation to report and act upon substandard care and failure to abide by this may result in registration repercussions, what is your advice to a doctor working in immigration detention who reports substandard care to their employer but no action is taken by that employer?
I would expect that the AMA, AMSA, ASMOF, registration bodies, the Colleges, and other professional associations are able to provide advice. However, in general terms, I would observe that:
• the border force legislation does not prevent anyone (including doctors) from making a disclosure where there are reasonable grounds to believe there’s a serious threat to health or life. If you believe doctors should also be able to breach confidentiality where there are not “reasonable grounds” to believe there’s a threat, or where the threat is not “serious”, then I would welcome your views about how that carve out might be appropriately expanded.
• the legislation also, explicitly, does not prevent anyone from making a disclosure where doing so is required or authorised by or under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory. You have raised concerns about “registration repercussions”. I’m unaware of any reason why the explicit carve out for situations where disclosure is required or authorised by law wouldn’t include disclosure required or authorised by (or under) the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

If you require any further information you may wish to read the bills digest or the senate committee report into the then border force bill. You may also wish to contact my office.

Best wishes

Terri Butler MP
07 3899 4031

AMSA's email of 31 July

Dear Terri Butler,

Thank you for your continued response to our emails. We appreciate the opportunity for a full and proper discussion around our concerns with the Border Force Act. You have made some interesting points and we are in the process of obtaining some more legal advice before we can respond comprehensively. To aid this process we were hoping to ask for a copy of Labor's extensive legal advice around the BFA and PIDA. With this we hope to identify all conflicts between our information and speed up our discussion.

As you have requested we are happy to extend the due date for our survey responses. Once we have reconciled the discrepancies between our views on the BFA we will consider sending another email to all MPs and Senators clarifying our position and furthering the due date for them as well.

Kind regards,
Jordan Budgen

My further email of 3 August

Dear Jordan and all

Thanks again for your correspondence about this issue. You will have seen my response, of earlier today, to your email. I apologise that I had not seen your email of Friday morning, which is below.

Like you, I appreciate the opportunity to have a measured discussion about the legislation. I note your request for Labor’s legal advice. As you know, Labor is in opposition and does not have the resources of government available to us. I have relied on publicly available material in my responses to you. Some of the extrinsic materials that are most relevant to the legislation to which you have referred are:

Border Force Act

Explanatory memorandum: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr5408_ems_b699cc7e-7aeb-451b-8725-c9ce0e065f12%22

Bills Digest: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillsdgs%2F3816040%22

Senate report: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Australian_Border_Force/Report

Public Interest Disclosure Act:

Explanatory memoranda: see the links here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5027

Bills digest: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillsdgs%2F2494869%22

Senate report: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/publicinterestdisclosure/report/index

You will also find submissions and other documents on the Australian Parliament House website.

With respect, it is a little unfair to concede, to me, that you are getting further advice, but not to let other MPs and Senators know that you are doing so. No doubt many of them will have, in good faith, sought to meet your request of an answer by last Friday. Given the interest in this issue I am putting our correspondence up on my website and in the event any of my colleagues are interested in the discussion we’ve had, they’ll be able to read it there.

Best wishes

 

Terri Butler MP

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