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CRIMES ACT 1914 - SECT 79

Official secrets

             (1)  For the purposes of this section, a sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document, or article is a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article in relation to a person, and information is prescribed information in relation to a person, if the person has it in his or her possession or control and:

                     (a)  it has been made or obtained in contravention of this Part or in contravention of section 91.1 of the Criminal Code ;

                     (b)  it has been entrusted to the person by a Commonwealth officer or a person holding office under the Queen or he or she has made or obtained it owing to his or her position as a person:

                              (i)  who is or has been a Commonwealth officer;

                             (ii)  who holds or has held office under the Queen;

                            (iii)  who holds or has held a contract made on behalf of the Queen or the Commonwealth;

                            (iv)  who is or has been employed by or under a person to whom a preceding subparagraph applies; or

                             (v)  acting with the permission of a Minister;

                            and, by reason of its nature or the circumstances under which it was entrusted to him or her or it was made or obtained by him or her or for any other reason, it is his or her duty to treat it as secret; or

                     (c)  it relates to a prohibited place or anything in a prohibited place and:

                              (i)  he or she knows; or

                             (ii)  by reason of its nature or the circumstances under which it came into his or her possession or control or for any other reason, he or she ought to know;

                            that it should not be communicated to a person not authorized to receive it.

             (2)  If a person with the intention of prejudicing the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions:

                     (a)  communicates a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article, or prescribed information, to a person, other than:

                              (i)  a person to whom he or she is authorized to communicate it; or

                             (ii)  a person to whom it is, in the interest of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions, his or her duty to communicate it;

                            or permits a person, other than a person referred to in subparagraph (i) or (ii), to have access to it;

                     (b)  retains a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article in his or her possession or control when he or she has no right to retain it or when it is contrary to his or her duty to retain it; or

                     (c)  fails to comply with a direction given by lawful authority with respect to the retention or disposal of a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article;

he or she commits an indictable offence.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 7 years.

             (3)  If a person communicates a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article, or prescribed information, to a person, other than:

                     (a)  a person to whom he or she is authorized to communicate it; or

                     (b)  a person to whom it is, in the interest of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions, his or her duty to communicate it;

or permits a person, other than a person referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), to have access to it, he or she commits an offence.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 2 years.

             (4)  If a person:

                     (a)  retains a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article in his or her possession or control when he or she has no right to retain it or when it is contrary to his or her duty to retain it;

                     (b)  fails to comply with a direction given by lawful authority with respect to the retention or disposal of a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article; or

                     (c)  fails to take reasonable care of a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article, or prescribed information, or to ensure that it is not communicated to a person not authorized to receive it or so conducts himself or herself as to endanger its safety;

he or she commits an offence.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

             (5)  If a person receives any sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document, article or information, knowing or having reasonable ground to believe, at the time when he or she receives it, that it is communicated to him or her in contravention of section 91.1 of the Criminal Code or subsection (2) of this section, he or she commits an indictable offence unless he or she proves that the communication was contrary to his or her desire.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 7 years.

             (6)  If a person receives any sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document, article or information, knowing, or having reasonable ground to believe, at the time when he or she receives it, that it is communicated to him or her in contravention of subsection (3), he or she commits an offence unless he or she proves that the communication was contrary to his or her desire.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 2 years.

             (7)  On a prosecution under subsection (2) it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show an intention to prejudice the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions and, notwithstanding that such an act is not proved against him or her, he or she may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, from his or her conduct or from his or her known character as proved, it appears that his or her intention was to prejudice the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions.

             (8)  On a prosecution under this section, evidence is not admissible by virtue of subsection (7) if the magistrate exercising jurisdiction with respect to the examination and commitment for trial of the defendant, or the judge presiding at the trial, as the case may be, is of the opinion that that evidence, if admitted:

                     (a)  would not tend to show that the defendant intended to prejudice the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions; or

                     (b)  would, having regard to all the circumstances of the case and notwithstanding subsection (9), prejudice the fair trial of the defendant.

             (9)  If evidence referred to in subsection (8) is admitted at the trial, the judge shall direct the jury that the evidence may be taken into account by the jury only on the question whether the defendant intended to prejudice the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions and must be disregarded by the jury in relation to any other question.

           (10)  A person charged with an offence against subsection (2) may be found guilty of an offence against subsection (3) or (4) and a person charged with an offence against subsection (5) may be found guilty of an offence against subsection (6).



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