Is it Treason?

Claims by our spy boss that a former politician betrayed the country should set alarm bells off and have us asking, "just how compromised is our political process?"

Is it Treason?
Photo by Michael / Unsplash

The claim by ASIO boss Mike Burgess that a former Australian politician was engaged with a foreign spy ring and betrayed their country is the talk of political circles.

Few of my contacts are surprised that this has happened, although to the general public, it is perplexing why a person they consider a traitor has not been charged as one.

Burgess claimed:

“This politician sold out their country, party and former colleagues to advance the interests of the foreign regime.

At one point, the former politician even proposed bringing a prime minister’s family member into the spies’ orbit. Fortunately, that plot did not go ahead, but other schemes did.”

While many would rush to judgment that these are acts of treason, the legislated definition doesn't support the accusation.

Here's what The Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 defines as treason.

Under section 80.1, a person commits treason if he or she:

- causes the death or harm, resulting in death, imprisons or restrains the Sovereign, the heir apparent of the Sovereign, the consort of the Sovereign, the Governor-General or Prime Minister

- levies war, or does an act preparatory to levying war against the Commonwealth

- intentionally assists, by any means whatsoever, an enemy, at war with the Commonwealth

- intentionally assists, by 'any means whatever', another country or organisation that is 'engaged in armed hostilities' against the Australian Defence Force (ADF)

- instigates a person who is not an Australian citizen to make an armed invasion of the Commonwealth or a Territory of the Commonwealth, or

- forms an intention to do any of the above acts and manifests that intention by an overt act.

Given that Australia is not officially engaged in any declaration of war and no one has knocked off the King or is encouraging an armed invasion, aiding and abetting a foreign power to advance their interests (even though they may be contrary to Australia's interests), isn't a treasonous act.

It's just as well because there's a long list of current and former politicians who could be under the microscope.

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