Explanatory Memorandum(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General, Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC)
1. The Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017 (the Bill) will introduce new offences and a new injunction power to prohibit and prevent conduct amounting to false representation of a Commonwealth body.
2. Specifically, the offences and the injunction power will prohibit a person from falsely representing themselves to be, or to be acting on behalf of, or with the authority of, a Commonwealth body.
3. The Bill strengthens public confidence in all communications emanating from Commonwealth bodies and will put the criminalisation of such conduct beyond doubt, ensuring that those who create false representations in this way are captured by the law. It will also provide aggrieved parties with an opportunity to prevent such conduct through a court-issued injunction.
4. It is essential that the public can trust in the legitimacy and accuracy of statements made by Commonwealth bodies. The amendments are critical to ensure the public has confidence in the legitimacy of communications emanating from Commonwealth bodies, thereby safeguarding the proper functioning of Government.
5. The Bill amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 (the Criminal Code). In summary, the Bill:
- criminalises conduct amounting to a person falsely representing themselves to be, or to be acting on behalf of, or with the authority of, a Commonwealth entity or service, and
- links to the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (the Regulatory Powers Act) to provide a new injunction power for authorised persons to apply to a relevant Court for an injunction to restrain the same conduct.
6. The Bill introduces a primary offence where the person is reckless as to whether their conduct will result in, or is reasonably capable of resulting in, a false representation. These amendments also create a new aggravated offence where a person engages in such conduct with the intent to obtain a gain, cause a loss, or influence the exercise of a public duty.
7. The Bill also introduces a new injunction power to allow authorised persons to seek injunctive relief to prevent conduct amounting to a false representation of a Commonwealth body.
FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT
8. The Bill will have no financial impact.