Anti-Corruption Commission

Senator Katy Gallagher’s comments in the Senate in 2021 must form a basis for a comprehensive investigation into the conduct of the prosecutions of ‘Witness K’ and Bernard Collaery.

Submissions may be made to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.


The Australian Senate
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee

Senate Hansard     Wednesday 11 August 2021     page 105


‘In government, Labor will amend the Intelligence Services Act for this matter to be referred to the PJCIS. In government, we will ensure an inquiry into the circumstances of the intelligence operation conducted by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service in Timor-Leste and the subsequent decision to prosecute Witness K and his lawyer, Mr Bernard Collaery. Further, Labor call on the Attorney-General to provide an explanation to the Senate of the public interest in continuing to prosecute Mr Collaery. For reasons that have not been publicly explained, Mr Morrison’s former Attorney-General, Mr Porter, personally authorised the prosecution of Witness K and Mr Collaery. This is despite Mr Porter’s predecessor, Mr Brandis QC, declining to provide that authorisation. Labor have been calling for Mr Porter to explain why he suddenly authorised these prosecutions, given the charges relate to events alleged to have occurred in 2004 and may have involved senior members of the Howard government. To date, neither Mr Porter nor his successor as Attorney-General, Senator Cash, have provided the public with an explanation for a decision to authorise the prosecutions or explained how the public interest is served by them.

‘Labor is also concerned by reports that Mr Porter instructed his lawyers to intervene in the pre-trial proceedings against Mr Collaery on multiple occasions in order to press the court to cast a greater cloak of secrecy over the trial. This has reportedly led to considerable further delay and cost and, in doing so, increased the stress and financial hardship faced by the accused. Under questioning from Labor in May this year, the Morrison government conceded that it had already spent over $4 million on these two prosecutions, even though they have still not progressed to the trial stage.’