A Canberra lawyer charged over the exposure of an Australian bugging operation in East Timor has had his case further delayed, after revealing a line up of international officials will take the witness stand.
In the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday, Justice David Mossop said a preliminary hearing for Bernard Collaery to determine what issues in his case should be kept secret wouldn't start on December 11 as planned.
Instead, a directions hearing would be held next Monday to determine a new date for the preliminary hearing and to figure out how long it would take.
Counsel for the Attorney-General Christian Porter, Tim Begbie, told the court late Tuesday afternoon he expected the proceedings would take about three days.
But Justice Mossop questioned whether it would, given Mr Collaery's legal team had put up nine affidavits to serve as evidence in the preliminary hearing.
Five of the affidavits were filed by former officials including former presidents of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta and Xanana Gusmao, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, former chief of defence Chris Barrie, and former Australian ambassador to the United States John McCarthy.
Mr Begbie told the court on Tuesday if the Attorney-General's counsel had understood the "nature, scope or extent of deponents", they wouldn't have thought one week, or even one month, was enough to review the evidence.
"The time and care and effort that has to go into that is very significant," Mr Begbie said. "That is a very, very big job."
Mr Begbie said there were sensitivities around dealing with foreign officials and the parties had to be very careful.
The court would also use the directions hearing on Monday and the original timeframe set down for the preliminary hearing on December 11 to 13, to discuss whether some of the attorney-general's material should be confidential or provided to the court only. Mr Collaery's legal team said it shouldn't be.
The attorney-general was putting forward three witnesses for the preliminary hearing.
Mr Collaery is accused of conspiring with his client, the former spy "Witness K", to breach a section of the Intelligence Services Act that makes punishable the revealing of information of any kind about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
Mr Collaery will fight the allegations at trial, which parties to the proceedings have said will be unlikely to go ahead until May next year. Witness K has indicated he will plead guilty.