AFP Confirms There Is No Investigation Into Anonymous Hanson-Young Spying Submission

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) say they have not been referred a complaint from the Department of Immigration, nor the Minister, over anonymous testimony submitted to a senate inquiry.

The submission, made by an anonymous Wilson Security employee, alleged Wilson staff spied on Senator Sarah Hanson-Young during an inspection of Nauru last year.

In the past, the Department has requested the AFP investigate damaging leaks, referring a submission made to the Human Rights Commission to police in March.

Like the submission reported last week, that one was made by an anonymous staffer working for an organisation contracted to deliver services on Nauru. It alleged serious incidents of sexual assault.

It was investigated on the basis is may have breached Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which makes it illegal for a Commonwealth officer to publish or communicate information where they are not authorised to do so.

A spokesperson from the Australian Federal Police said inquires would have to be directed towards the Department, but was subsequently able to confirm no referral had been received from the Department or the Minister in regards to a potential breach of Section 70.

The Department and the Minister had not responded to request for comment at the time of publication.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister rejected allegations Hanson-Young was being monitored.

“I don't accept that characterisation. I believe she was being, in fact, looked after while she was there,” he said.

Hanson-Young described the comments as “creepy”, and said she had been contacted by other contractors on Nauru who were told in advance of her visit she would be watched.

The Coalition has ramped up efforts to gag whistleblowers trying to speak out about conditions in detention centres, regularly referring cases to the AFP.

Last month the Senate passed legislation threatening two years imprisonment for those working in the immigration detention networks who disclose information about their work.

Former whistleblowers have warned there are not sufficient avenues to bring wrongdoing to light, and that laws designed to discourage disclosures will lead to further harm and mismanagement in detention centres.

Dr Peter Young, a former senior employee at private health contractor IHMS – which provides medical services in on and offshore detention centres – blew the whistle on the high rates of psychological distress among children in detention at the Human Rights Commission’s inquiry.

“It is absolutely and vitally important that people, and especially health professionals to have independence, to be able to advocate for people under their care and to be able to speak about legitimate issues of public health and concern without the threat of prosecution,” he told New Matilda.

“There are some legitimate restrictions around security and operational issues, but these are limited, and guidelines regarding responsible comment and patient confidentiality should of course apply.”

“The degree of restriction imposed by this legislation on health professionals is incompatible with professional standards and increased secrecy will inevitably result in more abuses.”

The new anti-whistleblower legislation will not come into effect until July 1. The Department has said it will not be retrospective in its application.

New Matilda

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