New legislation to safeguard Australia's military secrets

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

Defence Media

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14 September 2023

Today the Albanese Government is introducing the Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets Bill, which will strengthen our current laws and enhance the Government’s ability to protect Australia’s national secrets.

Last year, at the direction of the Deputy Prime Minister, Defence began developing new legislation to prevent the unwanted transfer of sensitive Defence information to foreign militaries with interests adverse to our own, and ensure anyone disclosing sensitive Defence information could face additional penalties.

Once passed, the new legislation will require certain former members of the Australian Defence Force and former Defence Australian Public Servants to obtain authorisation if they intend to work for a foreign military, foreign government or foreign government entity.

The legislation will also require any Australian citizen or permanent resident engaged in training with a foreign country related to controlled military goods and to military tactics, techniques and procedures to obtain similar authorisation.

Australians who work or have worked in Defence who come into possession of the nation's secrets have an obligation to maintain those secrets beyond their employment with the Commonwealth. This is an enduring obligation and to reveal any of those secrets is already a crime.

Australia has robust laws in place to protect our sensitive Defence information, including relevant offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 and secrecy provisions. This legislation extends Australia’s already robust legislation and policies further.

Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“This new legislation will bolster Australia’s national security by ensuring our military secrets remain safe.”

“This sensible reform strengthens the robust laws we have in place by enhancing the Government’s ability to prevent the unwanted transfer of sensitive Defence information to foreign militaries.”

“Importantly, it is not intended to prohibit former Defence personal seeking overseas employment opportunities. This is about keeping Australian secrets in Australian hands.”

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