Australia politics live: attorney general releases integrity commission details, says police working with FBI over Optus hack | Optus

Mark Dreyfus says FBI also working on Optus data breach

The attorney general has also addressed the Optus data breach to say that the FBI has been called in to help:

The government, as well as the Australian Federal Police and other government agencies, are working closely together on the Optus data breach. The Australian Federal Police is taking this very seriously with a large number of officers involved, working with other Federal Government agencies and state and territory police and with the FBI in the United States and with industry.

I would also like to reinforce the message that has been given by the Privacy Commissioner publicly which is that all Optus customers should be vigilant. Do not click on any links in a text message.

Check all web site sources – just check that it is an official web site before taking any future action.

If you are unsure about why you are being asked to divulge private information, stop and verify who the person or organisation is that is making that request of you.

Finally, for affected Optus customers, I can say that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner web site has further advice. Please visit oaic.gov.au and follow the prompts.

Key events

So he is asked again:

I don’t think that, as the minister responsible for this commission, once it is established, that it’s appropriate for me to be making referrals to this commission.

Will anyone in the government refer some of the issues it raised in opposition to the commission?

(He doesn’t really answer the question)

Mark Dreyfus:

I don’t look at the scandals surrounding the former government as material to build support for the National Anti-Corruption Commission. They were scandals in their own right and it was right that we drew attention to them.

I am hoping that this National Anti-Corruption Commission will be supported by the whole parliament, both the opposition, the now opposition, when they were in government, went to two elections and we went to two elections, promising to establish a National Anti-Corruption Commission and I am very much hoping that the Liberal part and the National Party keep to their commitment, made at the 2019 election, and at the 2022 election, and will now support our model for a National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The standing committee which will have oversight of the national commission will be drawn from across the parliament, Mark Dreyfus says.

Dreyfus: public hearings of the integrity commission should be exceptional

Q: Why is the bar for public hearings so high? Higher than what is seen in the states?

Mark Dreyfus:

We think that is the right setting and it shows that the commission has to take that into account before it decides to hold a public hearing but it will remain a matter for the Commissioner to [decide].

… For the reasons … that is going to be set out in the bill, we think public hearings should be exceptional and we think that the commission should be required to determine that it is in the public interest that a hearing be in public.

Public hearings, as we have seen, are more difficult to conduct. They raise questions about reputational harm which are not faced when you hold private hearings and that is why most of these commissions’ work has been done in private.

We would expect the same to occur with this new commonwealth agency.

No confirmation if ministerial discretion part of national integrity commission

Mark Dreyfus can’t say whether ministerial discretion will be in or out of this national integrity commission:

People should be afraid if they have engaged in corrupt activities and I would want people to be afraid if they have been engaged in corrupt activities.

The question of how the commission decides which matters are to be investigated, how it will devote its resources, which are not limitless, that will be a matter for the commission to decide and it’s the same problem that’s faced by everyone of the existing state and territory commissions. Where do you put your resources? What is the most effective use of the public funds that are entrusted to this commission?

Commission to decide meaning of “retrospective”

Dreyfus:

It will be for the commission to decide. It will be able to investigate conduct occurring before it was established.

Dreyfus: every investigation the commission undertakes will be in the public interest

Q: You speak about public hearings and exceptional circumstances if it’s in the public interest. Isn’t any investigation by this body into politicians … be in the public interest? On third parties … if they can be investigated, can they also be subject to corrupt conduct findings?

Mark Dreyfus:

Of course, every investigation that this commission undertakes is going to be in the public interest.

This is a different question that the commission is going to be asked to consider, which is whether the particular hearing should be held in public.

I expect that most of the hearings conducted by this federal commission, just as for the state and territory commissions, of which there is one in every state and territory, most of its hearings will be conducted in private. But where there are exceptional circumstances and the commission determines that it’s in the public interest that a hearing be in public, then it’s going to be in public. That’s a matter for the commission.

It will decide, yes.

Integrity commissioners to be chosen by cabinet and executive council

Back to the federal Icac, Mark Dreyfus is asked who will choose the commissioners?

The details will be in the bill tomorrow but there is a role for a Standing Committee of the parliament in the approval of the Commissioners, the senior officials at the commission. But it will be a cabinet decision as well and an executive council appointment.

Mark Dreyfus says FBI also working on Optus data breach

The attorney general has also addressed the Optus data breach to say that the FBI has been called in to help:

The government, as well as the Australian Federal Police and other government agencies, are working closely together on the Optus data breach. The Australian Federal Police is taking this very seriously with a large number of officers involved, working with other Federal Government agencies and state and territory police and with the FBI in the United States and with industry.

I would also like to reinforce the message that has been given by the Privacy Commissioner publicly which is that all Optus customers should be vigilant. Do not click on any links in a text message.

Check all web site sources – just check that it is an official web site before taking any future action.

If you are unsure about why you are being asked to divulge private information, stop and verify who the person or organisation is that is making that request of you.

Finally, for affected Optus customers, I can say that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner web site has further advice. Please visit oaic.gov.au and follow the prompts.

Government caucus meeting briefing

Sarah Martin

Sarah Martin

Labor MPs have this morning endorsed the government’s legislation for a new national anti corruption commission, paving the way for the bill to be introduced on Wednesday.

MPs signed off on a range of other bills, including the childcare package and the respect at work reforms.

The acting prime minister, Richard Marles, spoke to MPs about the important work the government was doing, saying the “strong start of the government” was not automatic, pointing to the “buyer’s remorse” felt after the 2013 election of Tony Abbott.

(He also spoke about the win of the Geelong Cats at the weekend’s AFL grand final as the “greatest grand final ever”.)

Most of the meeting was dominated by discussion of the Optus data breach, with MPs asking about the risk to exposed customers and how people whose driver’s licences had been leaked could be assisted.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, also gave some reassurance about the data held by banks, suggesting they had more people working on privacy issues than the commonwealth.

The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, said that the government was working with the Privacy Commissioner on issues arising from the breach, and said that Optus did not notify the commissioner of the breach until late on Friday.

The meeting also discussed the government’s plans to mark the 20-year anniversary of the Bali bombing, with the foreign minister, Penny Wong, confirming there would be a memorial service at Parliament House on October 12 and an event also to be held in Bali.

Linda Burney, the minister for Indigenous Australians, spoke about progress on the Voice to parliament saying “momentum is coming our way” and noting the strongest support for the move was in Tasmania.

The meeting also resolved not to support three private Greens bills relating to the climate trigger, electric vehicles and the corporatisation of the Snowy Hydro project.

Dreyfus: government will not be seeking to direct independent commission

Q: Will the examples Labor had used as examples to explain the need for a national integrity commission – Leppington triangle, Jamland etc – meet the threshold of this commission?

Mark Dreyfus says that is not up to him.

That will be a matter for the National Anti-Corruption Commission to decide. It is really important that I stress this to everybody. It is an independent commission. We will not be seeking, as the federal government, to direct this commission as to what it should inquire into.

I can repeat that it will be able to receive information from any source.

It will be able to receive anonymous tip-offs. It will be able to receive referrals from the heads of agencies [and] referrals from the public and it will then be a matter for the commission to decide first whether or not the matter that’s being complained about satisfies the serious or systemic corruption threshold and then to decide how, and when, and in what manner it’s going to conduct the investigation.

Q: What about public expectations of what should be covered?

You will able to see in the bill when I introduce it to the parliament tomorrow. There is a very broad definition of corrupt conduct. There is a threshold of serious or systemic corruption which will shape the way this commission undertakes its work. The commission should have expectations that this commission is going to get on with the job of stamping out corruption in the Australian public sector.

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