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Issuing an Instrument for an Improper Purpose

Issuing an instrument for an improper purpose is an offence under section 337 of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You were a public officer
  2. You were authorised or required to issue an instrument whereby any person could be prejudicially affected
  3. You issued such an instrument knowing it to be false in a material particular, and
  4. You did so for an improper purpose.

A ‘public officer’ is any person working for a government department, statutory authority, local council or parliamentary body.

This includes an employee of:

  1. The Roads and Maritime Service
  2. The Australian Taxation Office
  3. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, or
  4. The Department of Home Affairs.

A materially false or misleading particular may include a false name, date or other detail which could influence the grant of the instrument.

An ‘improper purpose’ may include issuing a licence, visa, tax status or company registration to a person who was not entitled to it.

Duress is a defence to the charge.

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