THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
THURSDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: National Anti-Corruption Commission; Optus Data Breach.
REPORTER: On NACC, do you see any room to negotiate on the public hearings threshold? There's a lot of complaints from the crossbench. Is that something that's up for negotiation?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL MARK DREYFUS: We've set up a public inquiry process in the form of a Joint Select Committee with the Australian Parliament with six Senators and six Members of the House. They're going to get submissions, they're going to be receiving those submissions, they're going to consider them, they will hold public hearings, and then they'll report. And of course, as with every Parliamentary committee process, the Government will take seriously, not just suggestions that the committee makes to us, but suggestions that have been made in submissions and made in public hearings. We don't pretend that we've got every single aspect of this bill absolutely right. We think we've got it pretty right. The tremendous level of approval that we've seen suggests that we've got it pretty right. But we're looking for support from across the Parliament. We're looking for support from the Liberal Party, the National Party and the crossbench, including the Greens Party that will strengthen this bill, if it's actually approved by everybody.
REPORTER: Can we read into that, though, that the use of the word exceptional, you are open to changing that?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I'm open to hearing argument about it. We think we've got the balance right. We think that there are sound reasons why a National Anti-Corruption Commission like this one will want to hold most of its hearings in private. There are also very sound reasons, occasionally, for holding a hearing in public. And it's a very sharp distinction between the model we've brought to the Parliament yesterday, and the former government's proposal, they wouldn't have had any public hearings at all. So yes, there's room for discussion. There's a balance to be struck. We'll listen to arguments that people make. We want to leave the decision - this is the key to it - we want to leave the decision to the independent commissioner.
REPORTER: On Optus, they've revealed thousands of people's current Medicare numbers have been compromised too. What's the Government doing there? Is there going to be replacements for those cards?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: There's tens of thousands, regrettably. Equally regrettably, Optus did not initially notify that the massive data breach involving nearly 10 million past and former customers included not just driver’s license numbers and passport numbers, as well as the names and dates of birth but also included some tens of thousands of Medicare numbers. We have been working for a week on repairing the damage done. Optus has been cooperating with a number of ministers and government departments in repairing the damage that's been done. Of course, we'll look at any need to replace Medicare numbers if that is indeed what is required and as the Prime Minister said yesterday, the cost should be borne by Optus.
REPORTER: Have they will pay?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We haven't heard from them. We've said that they should pay. The Prime Minister's made that clear, the Foreign Minister has also written to Optus asking for Optus to accept the cost of replacing passports if that is what is required. We haven't yet had a response from Optus.
Thanks very much.