Gadens, poisoned water, and the magic $1.7m figure

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Lawyers may indeed wonder why a senior Gadens partner was moved to say "we need to get in and poison a few public water supplies while the going is still good".

Well, for those who have met or heard Gadens partner Jon Denovan speak in person, this spontaneous, tongue-in-cheek on-camera grab for an industry TV interview may not be such a surprise.

This time, Denovan was taking aim at the Federal Government, when interviewed by trade publication Australian Broker in regard to the Privacy Act changes which were enacted earlier this week.

"The big difference about the Privacy Act is that we have got big penalties; the penalties are now $1.7 million dollars," Denovan explained, speaking primarily to a mortgage broking business audience.

He went on and - as usual - didn't pull any punches.

"For some reason the Government has a fine of $1.7 million dollars for everything, which is extraordinary because poisoning a public water supply is only $5600, so we need to get in and poison a few public water supplies while the going is still good."

Denovan appears to be on to something. A quick Google search reveals that the Federal Government was brandishing a big $1.7 million stick against businesses over the failure to submit compliant Interim Reports under the carbon tax regime last year. In a moment of inspiration, it appears the Government also decided to shift the decimal point a few zeros, to fine companies $17,000 a day for each day such a report was not submitted.

While he didn't warn listeners against the possibility of arrest for actions of public poisoning, Denovan did warn brokers they were at risk of more regulatory action, and that the Privacy Commissioner "could come knocking on your door".


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