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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 3964

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) (21:44): In the few minutes we have left I would like to take the opportunity to respond to Senator Brandis' comments about proceeds of crime action in relation to David Hicks. As Senator Brandis well knows, part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 enables action to be taken to prevent a person from earning profits by exploiting their criminal notoriety.

This can apply to crimes against foreign law if the benefit is derived in Australia or is transferred to Australia, and a decision to commence literary proceeds action under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is at the discretion of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions following an investi­gation by the Australian Federal Police. The Australian Federal Police has given a range of material to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for their consideration in this case and it would be inappropriate to comment on the likelihood of any future legal proceedings.

In general, it is appropriate to make a couple of general comments on this bill, including the fact that criminals have no respect for borders and they exploit new technologies to expand the parameters of their activities. Increasingly, the proceeds derived from a criminal enterprise are being moved offshore and hidden in other countries in an attempt to thwart law enforce­ment authorities in their investi­gations and prosecutions. In these situations, it is imperative that law enforcement authorities in different countries can cooperate with each other to register and enforce the proceeds of crime orders issued in one jurisdiction where the subject of the order is located in another.

The proposed amendments in this bill, as we have heard, will make sure that Australian authorities can continue to offer efficient and effective assistance to their foreign counterparts in enforcing proceeds of crime orders issued by foreign courts. This ensures that criminals cannot escape the consequences of their actions by hiding their illicit gains in Australia. These measures will allow Australian authorities to continue to assist in returning property to its rightful owners. It will also send a strong message of deterrence to potential criminals and where you have derived material gains from the commission of a criminal offence, law enforcement authorities will strip you of that benefit.

I commend the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Amendment (Registration of Foreign Proceeds of Crime Orders) Amendment Bill 2011 to the Senate and I thank senators for their contribution.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.