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LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATION COMMITTEE - 29/05/2000 - AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE - Outcome 1—The investigation and prevention of crime against the Commonwealth and protection of Commonwealth interests in Australia and overseas

CHAIR —We will now move to considering the Australian Federal Police, and invite Commissioner Palmer and officers to come to the table. Good evening Mr Palmer and Mr Kelaher. Thank you for bearing with the committee until this late hour. We will endeavour to accomplish as much as we can in the time that we have available until 11.00 p.m.

Senator COONEY —The Federal Police have the powers of arrest, entry, search and what have you. You have exercised them in respect of your own investigations. How often would Customs and Migration, AQIS and I think the ATO, call upon you in the middle of an investigation that they have pursued? Have you got any idea of that? What I am trying to do is get some sort of picture of how the various law enforcement bodies operate, and it seems a bit untidy. Under the Immigration Act people can search and enter on a warrant signed by the secretary and they can arrest on a warrant signed by the secretary, which is something the Australian Federal Police cannot do. What I am trying to do is get some type of purchase of how the whole system is working, and whether it is working according to common standards. It does not seem as if it is. Is that too vague a question to answer?

Mr Palmer —No, Senator. There are several answers to the question. As you may know, the Australian Law Reform Commission, in fact, is looking, as part of its reference now, at the powers of arrest as they apply across the Commonwealth, and the authorities to go with it, with a view to coming forward with some recommendations on possible change.

Essentially, many of the agencies and departments you mentioned have small investigative units within their own departments or agencies. They not infrequently commence investigations into alleged crimes or potential crimes that affect their own jurisdiction. As part of that process they will not infrequently refer those matters, either at the commencement of the investigation or at some future time during the course of it, to us for further investigation or for joint investigation. That is a case by case analysis in terms of whether they believe they have the capacity to do it in their own right, or whether they believe they need some assistance from us. On other occasions they refer the matter to us, which we then assess or pick up in our own right.

In terms of giving you specific details as to any percentages, Mr Keelty may be able to give some further detail. It does go up and down according to agencies. We are much more likely, for example, to do joint operations with Customs than we are with certain other agencies, although when we do do joint investigations with someone like the ATO, it is likely to be for a pretty important purpose. Mr Keelty may have further information.

Mr Keelty —Only to add that it is generally on a case by case basis. The fundamental driver for this is the fraud control policy of the Commonwealth and the policies in respect of coastal surveillance, which you mentioned earlier. By and large, the majority of the operations where we go into joint exercises, as the Commissioner said, is with the customs department in terms of drugs. We do frequently work together with most of the Commonwealth government departments because it is generally part of our charter.

Senator COONEY —Say you had a joint investigation, who would make the choice as to whether or not to send it up to the DPP to look at?

Mr Keelty —If it is going to the DPP, the general rule of thumb is that the AFP would have been engaged either early in the piece or for advice. Sometimes we execute search warrants on behalf of other departments who do not have a search warrant power, and then we assist them with advice on preparation of a brief of evidence. Sometimes we go into actual joint operations with them. So it depends on the crime that is being investigated. We do provide training to the other government departments where they have an investigative function. So across the Commonwealth government departments as a whole there is a great amount of interaction and coordination of matters. I think over a period of time what has happened is a lot of the government departments have learned which are the more serious and complex investigations that they need our assistance on, and they will engage us at a time when they recognise that to be the case.

Senator COONEY —So if you talk in terms of training, you get the feeling that although it is good training it is very limited in terms of time and what you could teach them over that period, and also in terms of experience that they would get. What I am concerned about is that you have got groups, all with the best of intentions, carrying out what in effect are investigative and policing duties and, even though they have been trained to some extent, just how good they are. I suppose you do not want to comment on that, but that is the worry. When cases are being taken through the court, how often would you get witnesses from the departments giving evidence—other than, say, formal evidence about a ship coming into the waters—of the investigations, or resulting from the investigations that took place in the crime?

Mr Keelty —It is something that is difficult to quantify. It happens frequently where the nature of the investigation or the prosecution is such that we have had to, for example, in drug matters, obtain evidence from Customs if it is in relation to a vessel. It really varies greatly. It is difficult to give an accurate answer in quantifiable terms. In general terms, you could say that frequently we would require evidence from Customs officers on drug matters. If it were people smuggling matters we would require evidence from Customs officers and Immigration officers, and obviously that changes completely if we are talking about a taxation investigation or an investigation on behalf of Centrelink. So it varies from department to department and the nature of the investigation as to whether we need to involve officers from the department at all. In some instances we would investigate a matter and not have to involve officers from the department because of the nature of the investigation, albeit that it is an office against the Customs Act or an offence against the tax administration act.

Senator COONEY —Social Security might be a place where it would be fairly obvious, I suppose, in many cases—just going through the books in the social security department or whatever it is called now.

Mr Palmer —They do conduct many investigations in their own right. There is a fairly high level of guilty pleas in regard to many of the joint investigations with which we are involved as well. So although the officers from other departments and agencies may well form part of the brief in terms of us obtaining statements from them, it is not as frequent for them to be required to give evidence because the nature of the evidence is often such that it results in guilty pleas even for quite serious offences.

Senator COONEY —With the magistrates' courts, I think that would be particularly the situation, would it—that you would get a lot of guilty pleas or get other departments who do that on their own?

Mr Palmer —We get a fairly high level of guilty pleas in regard to Supreme Court matters, particularly involving drug interdiction, and even with some of the more organised people smuggling offences where, because of the nature of surveillance and other technological evidence, it is not unusual for guilty pleas to be entered.

Senator LUDWIG —Going to the outcomes in the—

Senator COONEY —Sorry, but once you get going you will go for hours. One thing I should have got on to and this is a sort of a dorothy dixer, but I think it is a proper dorothy dixer—

Senator Vanstone —Just before you do, in case you go on for hours, I was going to say that Senator Ludwig might have been entitled to say the same of you on other occasions.

Senator COONEY —Yes, that is true.

Senator Vanstone —Yes.

Senator COONEY —I am properly brought into order.

Senator LUDWIG —I am holding my tongue.

Senator COONEY —I wanted to talk about the United Nations and the failure to give the recognition to the Federal Police that they should have. What have we done about that?

Senator Vanstone —As I understand it, there is some administrative discussion within the UN and some doubt. It came as a great surprise to me that the UN might eventually come to an absolute decision that the UN medal would not be awarded to our people. When I heard that, I made it abundantly clear that negotiations should continue and, if it is not resolved happily, the government will make, and I think maybe already has made, its view clear to the UN in no uncertain terms. Just for the record, and not because you do not know these things, Senator Cooney, it was the civilian police that were up in Timor first and the bulk of them were Australian police. They were unarmed, on their own advice. They oversaw the vote being undertaken in a peaceful fashion. They were there to ensure that the ballots were properly protected and counted and they were there, might I say, when all hell broke loose until sufficient armed forces could come in. If anybody thinks they are going to get away with not recognising the Australian Federal Police in that role without getting a bit of cold you-know-what from the government and me, in particular, they are mistaken. The matter is not yet resolved.

Senator COONEY —Have the United Nations given any answer to that or do they simply say you are not—

Senator Vanstone —The commissioner might have some fresh advice on this matter since I was last updated.

Mr Palmer —I do not think I have anything specific since the last time we appeared before you, except that we did receive some advice coming out of the Dili United Nations office in East Timor that people would not qualify because they had not seen through the full 90 days requirement. There was then some suggestion—and I think Mr Keelty will correct me if I am wrong—that a different days allocation would be required of police than was required of a military presence. That was in conflict with earlier advice that we had received that we would be recognised clearly for a range of reasons, including those that have just been amplified by the minister, and also particularly recognising that it was through no fault of the police that they were caused to leave before the 90 days. In some circumstances, it was simply because of the nature of the environment at the time. That is now under review through the United Nations in New York and we are still hopeful that, in fact, the United Nations position will change. The East Timor decision was just a local decision, which I think was simply following the rules as they are laid down, rather than reflecting an understanding of the environment.

Senator COONEY —I think it would be fair to say that the Australian community is very anxious to see justice done. I suppose that is the best way of putting it.

Senator Vanstone —Thank you for raising that because you may well have reminded me to make sure that all messages are repeated to the United Nations. I clearly understand the basis on which it is fair and appropriate that they do get that recognition but what had not occurred to me—the point that you have just raised—is how unhappy the Australian public will be with the UN if they make the wrong decision. Perhaps they might need to be acquainted with the government's assessment of the Australian public's view, which I am sure is 100 per cent behind the Australian Federal Police in this respect. I thank you for that reminder. I shall make sure Ms Wensley is cabled tomorrow.

Senator COONEY —I would not want to interrupt, Senator Ludwig.

CHAIR —I am sure you would, Senator Cooney, so on that basis I will turn again to Senator Ludwig.

Senator LUDWIG —Just on that question, we might bring that a little bit into sharper focus. As I understand it, there was an instruction from the United Nations administrative body UNTAET No. 14/00 dated 29 April 2000, which sets out the criteria under which the United Nations medal will be awarded. I think that was the nub of the questions that were being put to you by Senator Cooney.

Military personnel are to receive the medal after 90 days, but civilian police must serve 180 days. Members of the first Australian police contingent served 90 days or less, and subsequent missions are for six months, which could still leave some of those people short of the required time. That is the issue that was being explored by Senator Cooney. That news from the United Nations brings into focus what you are going to do about it. As I understand it, you are now going to take some action, so that part of the question has been answered. In addition, can you also remind them that there are thousands of dollars in unpaid allowances and compensation for property destroyed by the pro-Indonesian militia? Many of the members of the AFP have been back some time now and have not seen any outstanding moneys or recognition from the UN. Mr Palmer, you would be aware of that. When you cable them, could you also take that on board and see whether we can hurry that along to provide some assistance for these people?

Mr Palmer —Yes, thank you very much. We are in frequent contact with the United Nations, but we have moved to process and pay insurance related claims made by our members in advance of any United Nations payment of those claims. So, as the claims are coming in, we are immediately moving to process those, and we will pay them and simply seek the recompense from the United Nations if, and hopefully when, they pay. Certain members are still waiting for the mission allowance—the MSA, as it is called. We are not alone in that regard. Other countries are being dealt with at the same slow bureaucratic speed through the United Nations process. We are again agitating to have that expedited. We have to sadly say that, although we have not been involved in these numbers before, the payment of those sorts of allowances by the United Nations is historically slow, and we have been involved with the United Nations peacekeeping for 30-plus years now.

Senator LUDWIG —I am not familiar with how quick they should be. It just seems that eight months is about the time you would raise your head and start to yell.

Mr Palmer —Absolutely.

Senator LUDWIG —What steps have you taken to inform the Australian Federal Police that that is the course you are taking, so that they can at least take some comfort that you are acting with due diligence and care on their behalf in this matter? Have you put out a memo or a release?

Mr Palmer —Yes, we have.

Senator LUDWIG —If you have, I would not mind a copy of that going to the committee if it is available.

Mr Palmer —Certainly.

Senator LUDWIG —I turn to a more home bound issue: the uniformed Australian services paying tax on their salary. That was raised at additional supplementary budget estimates, and I still raise it here. I am curious as to whether there has been any progression on them paying tax on their salaries and their allowances.

Senator Vanstone —Senator, could I say two things on that. The matter is under consideration by Senator Kemp. I wrote to him and asked him to consider that matter. But you should bear in mind before he makes his decision—he might have made it, but it has not been communicated to me yet—that there are quite fundamentally different roles undertaken by the military and by the civilian police. In fact, someone who used to work in my office was commenting on this recently. He has been engaged in a number of these peacekeeping things, has written quite clearly about it and can highlight for newcomers that the one great advantage they have is that they are not military and that they are not generally armed. That should highlight the very different role they undertake. They have different rates of pay and, in many circumstances, different conditions. I say that only to highlight that it does not follow that, because one has a particular condition, it will necessarily be appropriate for the other to have it. Nonetheless, I have written to Senator Kemp about that matter.

Senator LUDWIG —If we then turn that around slightly, Minister, what about if there are other police services performing a similar role in East Timor who are paid non-taxable amounts? Would that be of assistance?

Senator Vanstone —I cannot say what Senator Kemp would take into account, but it would seem to be something that would be of interest, as would the other terms and conditions of those other police forces, yes.

Senator LUDWIG —In other words, you can see where I am coming from: although it is readily apparent that they have different roles, taxable issues do not always follow, but if there are like with like arguments, they certainly—

Senator Vanstone —They are always of interest, of course they are.

Senator LUDWIG —So, to reverse that, if you were presented with that position, you would agree that it should be treated similarly?

Senator Vanstone —I cannot say what I would agree with and what I would not. It is Senator Kemp's decision.

Senator LUDWIG —Would you put it to Senator Kemp then, if I reverse it?

Senator Vanstone —Any matter you want to give to me I will happily pass on. But I just want to suggest to you that I doubt there is anyone at this table who is not an advocate of the Australian Federal Police who you need to convince.

CHAIR —Or at this table, Minister.

Senator Vanstone —Or at that table. We are all in the same club here—we all like them, we all think they did a great job and we all want them to get everything they can.

Senator LUDWIG —To put it shortly: is Senator Kemp in the other camp?

Senator Vanstone —That is what we are all waiting to find out.

Senator LUDWIG —We will all wait with a worm on our tongue, I suspect. The `baited' breath!

Senator Vanstone —No doubt if he makes a decision different to that—than that? from that?: that is another matter for Fowler's English usage, I suppose, but you know what I mean—

CHAIR —Different from, I think, Minister.

Senator Vanstone —Okay, I will accept it if that is what you say it is—different from that, then he will offer some good reasoning for that and, being sensible people, we will see good reason.

Senator LUDWIG —In relation to the travel allowances, I understand there are still some unresolved issues surrounding the police having received only half the amount originally promised.

Mr Palmer —I do think that is right, Senator. I do not know whether Mr Keelty can assist.

Mr Keelty —Just a point of clarification. The travel allowance as one thing. There is a mission subsistence allowance or MSA.

Senator LUDWIG —This is travel allowance?

Mr Keelty —No, the travel allowance has all been paid.

Mr Palmer —Initially there was some confusion between the rate paid to people who did not go into East Timor, although part of the UN mission, but stayed in Darwin. That has now been remedied and everybody has been paid, I am advised, the full travelling allowance.

Senator LUDWIG —I think originally it was half.

Mr Palmer —That is right, it was a lesser amount. That has now been remedied.

Senator LUDWIG —My information had got a bit stale on that. When was that done? Was it recently?

Mr Palmer —I will take that on advice, but I think it was some little time ago. Apparently there were two discrepancies that occurred. One was in regard to one of the earlier contingents on their way into Darwin where they were not appropriately paid, and we moved to correct that very early this year. The other one was when members were coming back out of Darwin and were based for some time in Darwin on the way out of East Timor, and the fact that they were not paid the full TA was not immediately known to us. That has only recently been remedied, but they have now both been fully paid.

Senator LUDWIG —Right. And the mission allowance has been sorted out?

Mr Palmer —The MSA, you mean?

Senator LUDWIG —Yes, that relates to the earlier question.

Mr Palmer —We are still waiting for the payment by the United Nations of the MSA.

Senator LUDWIG —And we are all urging them.

Mr Palmer —We are urging them strenuously.

Senator LUDWIG —Going back to the budget portfolio statements, and output 1 in 2000-01, where there is the combination of outcomes 1, 2, 4 and 5 in the 1999-2000 budget, it seems that you have combined outcome 1, which is then equivalent to outcomes 1, 2, 4 and 5 in the 1999-2000 budget, so there is a compression, if we can use that word. Is that what you have done?

Mr Kelaher —Yes, that is right.

Senator LUDWIG —Why is that?

Mr Kelaher —Some of these statements are made in the portfolio budget statement's introductory paragraphs. The AFP was one of the first agencies to move to this outcome structure. We did so with a great deal of thought and advice but probably went a bit overboard. We set up five outcomes and something like 19 outputs. The level of detail required to administer and report on that was such that we found we were losing track of what it was we were trying to measure and account for. So, in the early part of this year—in response to the experience we were gaining as well as the Vertigan Review into the outcome and output structure and some findings of a Senate inquiry—we took all of that on board and reviewed, in light of our experience, our outcome structure.

We discussed this with our minister and the department of finance and came to the view that two outcomes and four outputs was about right for an agency of this size with this range of responsibilities. Some of the things we also looked at were the number of outcomes of other agencies. As I recall, Defence has one outcome, Customs has one outcome and a number of agencies of a much larger scale and with arguably a wider range of responsibilities have fewer outcomes. We felt that, on the basis of our experience and after some reconsideration, two outcomes—one was our national and international responsibilities and the other was our ACT community policing responsibilities—went to the heart of our activities and made for clear reporting.

Senator LUDWIG —Has the committee asked before for the review that you spoke of?

Mr Kelaher —All of that information is well and truly available to the committee, and some committee members have perhaps referred to those other inquiries in earlier hearings.

Senator LUDWIG —Then I will not ask for it again. In the 2000-01 PBS, outcome 1—which is on the left-hand side of table 1.1—totals $288.651 million. Then, when the budget measures are removed, the total is $259.091 million. In 1999-2000, the total of the outcomes which you compressed—outcomes 1, 2, 4 and 5—was $218.348 million. It seems to indicate that there was an increase in the budget of something in the order of $40 million—rounding my math up, which is not necessarily my forte—before the budget measures. Does the $40 million include the $35 million for the Australian Federal Police Adjustment Scheme and the $1.1 million for the communications equipment that you refer to on page 265? Is that where the money is?

Mr Kelaher —Will you be satisfied if I say no? Congratulations: we have tried to anticipate every one of these questions, but that is a new slant. I think the $35 million for AFPAS and the $1.1 million for the telecommunications is contained in that $36.1 million, which is the second last figure on the right-hand side of table 1.1. You referred to the amount of $288 million; by definition, the $36.1 million is not in the $288 million.

Senator LUDWIG —No.

Mr Kelaher —The reason for the $40-odd million difference is some of the other pre-existing government initiatives—so, new measures from last year for which the resourcing is much higher this year than was the case last year, and there are a number of those. The ones that immediately occur to me are changes in resourcing for the NIDS program, the AFP reform program, Olympics initiatives and CHOGM.

Senator LUDWIG —Could you take that on notice and give us a breakdown of how that money has been spent. If you then take the $25.427 million for East Timor payments, the figures that resolve themselves into millions which the AFP is getting, it is not $40 million, is it? If you then take the $200,000 for the protection of the national information infrastructure, which I will come to later, and the $3.933 million for the people smuggling, and another $4 million which I cannot find—if you can find it, let me know please—is that money going to increasing the operational ability of the AFP? That is what I am trying to ascertain from you.

Mr Palmer —In answer to your earlier question about wanting a breakup, I can quickly walk you through a breakup which might be of assistance to you.

Senator LUDWIG —That would be helpful.

Mr Palmer —Counting all of the figures, the total AFP funding that was announced in the 2000-01 budget, it is just under $402 million. That includes such things as the AFPAS payment and Olympics and reform program money and so on. The new measures provided in the budget consist of $25.4 million to meet the costs associated with the government's ongoing commitment to East Timor under UNTAET, which is part of $104 million committed over four years; additional resourcing of $3.9 million to investigate and detect organised people smuggling, the recently announced initiative with DIMA; and a funding of $200.2 million as part of a broader measure for the protection of the national information infrastructure, which is a joint initiative with ourselves, the Attorney-General's Department, ASIO and the Department of Defence, which in our case particularly is aimed at increasing our e-crime investigative capacity.

There is also $2.2 million related to CHOGM, the heads of government meeting, with a further $1.2 million assigned for 2000-01, which will be funded as part of an appropriation through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. There are capital appropriations of $36.1 million, which includes the $35 million AFPAS money and the $1.1 million for the purchase of new communications equipment related to the micro video link capacity. As well as that, over the same period there have been ongoing significant funding initiatives which Mr Kelaher touched on of $23 million this year of which $10.6 million, which is the largest amount, is assigned this year for Olympics related preparations.

Senator LUDWIG —How much?

Mr Palmer —It is $10.6 million. A total of $23 million was assigned overall, but $10.6 million of that is appropriated this year, and $23.5 million for a continuation of the Tough on Drugs strategy, that is, the further implementation of strike teams plus related initiatives, both in terms of Australia and offshore investigative initiatives.

Senator LUDWIG —When will that be spent?

Mr Palmer —That is appropriated to be spent in 2000-01.

Senator LUDWIG —Including the $10.6 million. So there is $33.6 million in those two initiatives.

Mr Palmer —Yes. There is a further $28.5 million, as Mr Kelaher mentioned, toward the ongoing AFP reform program.

Senator LUDWIG —Yes.

Mr Palmer —That is of the total $115 million. And then there is the figure mentioned before, which is the $35 million AFPAS money. So the reality is that we benefit from an increase in our operational running cost budget this year as opposed to last year. When you take the add-ons and the add-offs, we are better off this year than we were last year.

Senator LUDWIG —That was what I was trying to do with my calculator. We seem to have got somewhere. Thank you. In the 1999-2000 budget, outcome 1 was broken down as you earlier referred to into nine separate functions and you have now compressed those. It is, obviously, not in the 2000 portfolio budget statements. I am interested in how we can track these things. You put a particularly good process together last time, though your answer seems to be now that you do not want to do it because nobody else does it. You broke it up into output group 1.1—Illicit drug investigations, economic crime investigations, corruption investigations, import-export investigations, general crime investigations, special reference investigations, external agency support, criminal assets recovery and police advice. Now you produce that all in the one area; you no longer break that up. That is correct, isn't it?

Mr Kelaher —We no longer report at that level of detail. We maintain that information internally and then at some level of detail below that. But we just found it a little bit misleading to report externally at that level of detail. It also involved a fair bit of averaging of numbers across that multitude of performance levels, but we still do maintain that level of detail.

Senator LUDWIG —Can you provide that level of detail to the committee. It is difficult to ascertain whether there has been an increase or decrease in any of the particular budget areas—broadly speaking, whether or not you have got emphasis on illicit drug investigation or whether you have now decided to have emphasis on policy advice. That is an unreal example, but that is the sort of question I would really like to ask. I am hampered in being able to ask that because I do not know whether your breakdown is high or low in those areas.

Mr Kelaher —Certainly for the year that we are presently in, we will be reporting in the annual report at that level of detail, down to all of those lines of investigation. I am just not sure whether, in the way that we have reconfigured ourselves for 2000-01 and onwards, we will have that starting position against which to report in subsequent years. We have treated the whole of the budget as available for the tiered application of priorities and we do not have the same sort of starting position as was the case in that previous five-outcome structure. But as the year unfolds we will certainly maintain levels of information about the application of resources to that level of detail. I just do not believe that we will start the year having budgeted to spend money against that level of detail.

Senator LUDWIG —So what you are saying to me is that you cannot tell me how much of that you have budgeted for illicit drug investigations as per the previous portfolio budget statement, where you then outlined something of the order of $78.235 million?

Mr Kelaher —Yes, that is right. If I could just explain: it is not so much cannot, as that the previous reporting at that level of detail involved a wide range of assumptions about the applications of overheads and activity analysis to apportion corporate costs, those various other things. We decided that to some extent that created the impression of a lot of information which was artificially derived, and we decided to go about it in a different way in the 2000-01 year and subsequent years.

Senator LUDWIG —What can you help me with, then, for a reasonable assessment as to how well you are going to fund those specific areas? They are areas within your area of activity and you then have the ability to focus on some more than others—that is a fair statement, isn't it—and you can do that by your budget. How can we then have a look at that if you do not tell us?

Mr Kelaher —I would like to have a breather from this and give my colleagues a chance to answer parts of this. I want to attempt to demonstrate that we have not tried to remove information but have tried to approach it in a different way.

Senator LUDWIG —Could I say that you are failing on that at this point in time. Try again, please.

Mr Kelaher —Yes.

Senator Vanstone —That is not very generous of you, Senator Ludwig.

Senator LUDWIG —I withdraw that, then.

CHAIR —That is very amenable of you, Senator Ludwig.

Mr Kelaher —The nature of the AFP's activities is more about the priority for the application of resources and the result achieved. The previous outcome driven approach which we adopted tended to place a very high degree of emphasis on the use of money to measure results, and we attempted to rethink that over the last year in the light of our own experience and the experience of others. What we do now is that we take a business planning approach to the setting of priorities. So, for the investigation of drugs, we have determined that we wish to apply a certain proportion of our resources to a certain type of crime. Very high impact or high impact crime is going to receive, say, 20 per cent of our investigative resources.

It is not necessarily a failing to have spent 25 per cent or perhaps 15 per cent of those resources as the year unfolds. What we do instead is have a monthly process by which we assess whether or not we are getting the results that we wish to see for the application of those resources or whether, in fact, because, say, drugs are an increasing problem or perhaps we have got some very serious investigations, we want to re-weight the resources being applied to that particular priority. So we have taken an approach more driven by priorities and impact and trying to get the best value for the dollar rather than trying to measure our performance as to whether we spent the $10 million that we said we would on a particular activity at the start of the year and be judged by whether we spent the $10 million or not. We would much prefer to account for the success with which we pursued the highest of our priorities and the results achieved.

Senator LUDWIG —Do we then have the ability to be able to obtain that information from you so that we can have a look at how you are then measuring your performance against your goal, I guess, or your target? Is that available?

Mr Kelaher —Yes.

Senator LUDWIG —Can you make that available to the committee. I understand where you are now driving and it seems a worthwhile process, but it is not if I cannot have a look at it in order to assess fairly or ask questions about, for argument's sake, computer crime investigations and whether or not that is a priority and whether or not you are spending money in securing computer crime given the—I do not know what they call it—latest virus that has been floating around and its derivatives.

Senator Vanstone —Perhaps I could say that the government is extremely pleased with the way the federal policy has looked after reporting on its finances and accounting for what it does, and so is the Department of Finance. That is my first experience in government of the Department of Finance being happy with someone's accounting arrangements. I am quite genuinely very happy with the changes that have been made. The Federal Police have put an enormous effort into this. I raise that simply to underline what Mr Kelaher says: this change is no attempt to give less information but simply to get the appropriate focus. I am sure they will send you whatever extra information it is appropriate to send to the committee, but I am equally sure that if you have a special interest in this Mr Kelaher could organise for a private briefing for you on the understanding that anything that went further than what was given to the committee as a whole would have to be entirely confidential and probably you would not get any written material. But they really have made an enormous effort and I would be very keen for what they have done to be showcased to you.

Senator LUDWIG —Perhaps we can then settle with what Mr Kelaher can provide.

Senator Vanstone —I understand the problem in taking things that you cannot then use because it limits what you can ask about here, but often an extra thing can inform what you ask and if ever you want such an extra briefing you should ask for it and you will be given it.

Senator LUDWIG —Thank you. I certainly will take note of that and, in the interim, perhaps Mr Kelaher could provide some additional statements about how his performance is now, then I am sure, given what you have said, he will be able to satisfy my concern quite easily. I am confident of that. I am not being facetious at all.

Senator Vanstone —I expect they will be able to, absolutely.

Senator LUDWIG —My concern just goes to, being relatively new in this, that you look at the budget and you look at how it is packed and unpacked and I am supposed to be suspicious, I suspect. Going to the protection of the national information infrastructure, there is $200,000. How is that going to be spent? Is that just for the program itself or is it for the staff included in it or new positions?

Mr Palmer —New positions, essentially. There are two new positions—Mr Kelaher can probably give further details—to focus very specifically on the information infrastructure environment and particularly to improve our capacity to deal with the sophisticated end, if you like, of e-crime investigation.

Senator LUDWIG —And will that be in the computer crime unit itself?

Mr Palmer —They are part of our overall computer crime capacity. They will have a particular focus, of course, in terms of looking inwards across government organisations and government structures, as well as dealing with crimes coming in from other avenues.

Senator LUDWIG —This is a distinct program that is being funded. What is being put in place under that program, if it is a program, in terms of the area that it is going to look at, the strategy that it will adopt and the two staff members, as to what resources they will be given to do the functions that have been outlined for them? Is there a document that is available to the committee that outlines that?

Mr Palmer —We would certainly have documents that address the submission that resulted in the decision. Mr Keelty might be in a better position to answer the question.

Mr Keelty —Just to set out where that funding will fit in the overall scheme of the AFP resourcing, the AFP will receive funding of $190,000 to enhance its investigation response capability in relation to the protection of the national information infrastructure. That will enable us to fund two further positions in our electronic crime investigations and intelligence area. This is part of a $2 million package involving the Attorney-General's Department, ASIO and the Department of Defence. This is an important step, as far as we are concerned, in increasing our ability to look at the prevention, detection and investigation of all electronic crimes. There is a report that the Commonwealth Attorney-General publicly released—the report of the interdepartmental committee on the protection of the national information infrastructure. This initiative comes out as a result of that report.

Senator LUDWIG —Has that report been made available to the committee?

Mr Keelty —I imagine it would have been.

Senator LUDWIG —Is it a new report?

CHAIR —I do not think the committee has seen it. Is it appropriate to make it available?

Senator LUDWIG —Perhaps you could take that on notice and if it is, then let me know.

Mr Palmer —I think it is correct to say yes but we should take that on notice and make sure. The NII is part of an overall approach to electronic crime which we have been involved in addressing for some years. Initially, we were given $1 million over three years by the government in 1998 to address particularly our capacity to combat electronic crime. As a result of that, our electronic evidence capacity has increased from four to 11 personnel since 1996, and that is despite the fact that we have had some of our very best people poached by private industry during that time. We have now what we call electronic evidence teams based in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and Brisbane, and we are planning a team for Adelaide. The Canberra and Brisbane teams were set up in 1999 as a result of the later stage of our ongoing reform process. As part of that as well, within the national central bureau, which we host on behalf of Australian policing, which is the connection to Interpol, we have established a 24-hour contact point as part of our Operations Monitoring Centre for the receipt and handling of international requests regarding electronic high technological emergency crime, such as the recent viruses that have been referred to us, among other things, through that forum and through the FBI and other agencies. It is part of a wider matrix of initiatives that we are involved in at the moment in an area that, for all law enforcement agencies anywhere, of course, is a very difficult one.

Senator LUDWIG —You both agree that it is of high concern; what additional funding is planned? Some press clippings from which I was gleaning information referred to it as cyber crime. I do not know whether you use that label or not, but if you do, perhaps you could explain whether, in that area, any additional money or funding is going to be put to combat cyber crime.

Mr Palmer —A significant part of the initial reform money provided by the government to the AFP was for the reprofiling and repositioning of the AFP in a particular skill base. We recognised, even more widely than electronic crime, a whole range of areas that obviously were likely to affect Australia's Commonwealth jurisdiction beyond 2000. There was a need for us to think about what real skills were needed to deal effectively with it. So we have been addressing the skills we need in the organisation more broadly with that money. So we have money that we can use to an extent at our own discretion in terms of where it is best needed. As part of the ongoing papers and arguments that we are putting before the monitoring committee, obviously, we will be looking at specific needs. Obviously, e-crime will be one of those that will need to be considered by government as we get a further handle on not so much the numbers of people but the money and the sort of skills that we need to attract to deal effectively with these problems.

Senator LUDWIG —There was a Model Criminal Code released in January which canvassed new penalties for computer crimes. Are you familiar with that?

Senator Vanstone —Yes.

Mr Palmer —Yes. I know the document you mean.

Senator LUDWIG —John Broome criticised the timing and adequacy of the proposals in the particular chapter. Are you familiar with those criticisms? They appeared in an article in the newspapers.

Senator Vanstone —I am familiar with some of his criticism. I do not have the articles in front of me. I will, therefore, respond on the basis of what I recall from the last time I looked at some remarks made by him.

Senator LUDWIG —I suspect it is the same theme.

Senator Vanstone —Yes, I do too. The remarks I looked at, however—that I am thinking of—was a transcript of a Radio National interview he did. Anyway, you will soon tell me if it does not go to the point of some concern he had.

Senator LUDWIG —Yes.

Senator Vanstone —I think he thought the Commonwealth was too slow to look at computer offences; that, in fact, they had been looked at in the early nineties and some recommendations that had been made had, in fact, been put in place. The Model Criminal Code proposed changes simply recognised those, relatively speaking, quite new offences—15 years ago, something that was put in place that was only three, four or five years old would be considered a very new offence. These days, especially in relation to computer crimes, they may not be adequate, and they have been judged not to be, and require change. I would like the opportunity to check this, but as last I recall, Mr Broome had not, in fact, made a contribution to the Model Criminal Code inquiry or, shall I say, the final report thereon.

Senator LUDWIG —It is a question you may need to put to him. In terms of the Model Criminal Code, is it intended that you will bring in legislation supporting that in the new future?

Senator Vanstone —Government has not made that decision yet. Government is particularly interested in equipping all of our agencies and having our legislation in a form that can handle the crime we face at the time and, clearly, that means there needs to be an update. We have not formally responded to that report yet.

Senator LUDWIG —In terms of that area of cyber crime and the legislation that I have referred to—the Model Criminal Code—have you looked at the New Zealand experience? I understand they have done some work in this area as well. In other words, have you gone further afield and looked at what else can be done, particularly, for argument's sake, by the New Zealand government, or anywhere else?

Senator Vanstone —I have not personally and I cannot tell you from memory whether the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee did that. I can say that my office has been spending some considerable time over the last few months acquiring information from all over the world. There are some especially interesting approaches being taken in the United States to the problem of cyber crime and what the key problems are.

It is often mistaken for being nothing more than the legal niceties associated with computers and e-commerce. But, in fact, cyber crime goes way beyond that. If you have read the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee final report you will see a new offence is proposed. Well, a number are, but the one I want to refer to is the one where you commit an offence of using a computer to commit another offence. The proposed penalty for that new offence is whatever the penalty is currently in law for the offence you use the computer to commit. So, if you use a computer to commit murder, the penalty for using the computer to commit murder would be the penalty for murder. Or if you use it to commit terrorism, the penalty would be the terrorism penalty. It is quite an innovative approach to catch people, because the range of ways in which computers can now be applied is far beyond that which people might have imagined five or 10 years ago.

CHAIR —Senator Ludwig, it is 11 o'clock. A careful observation of the papers in front of you would indicate to me that you have further questions in relation to the AFP.

Senator LUDWIG —Yes. there are a few more on cyber crime, but I am happy to sleep on them overnight.

CHAIR —Senator Cooney, do you have further matters to pursue on the AFP as well?

Senator COONEY —No.

CHAIR —I am clearly in the hands of the committee, but it was our intention to conclude at 11.00 p.m. and to begin tomorrow morning at 9.00 a.m. I propose that we do that with the AFP again if the officers are amenable to that proposition.

Senator Vanstone —Perhaps before coming to that view, the committee might like to consider how much longer you will be on the AFP. They may have understood that 11.00 p.m. as the close time and need to go, but they may not. If we could give them an idea of how much longer you might be—

CHAIR —I discussed it previously with Senator Ludwig and I think it is some time.

Senator LUDWIG —It would be more than half an hour, I suspect.

Senator Vanstone —We will come back in the morning then.

CHAIR —I will close the committee and thank my long-suffering secretariat in particular, colleagues, the minister, Mr Cornell and all of his officers, Hansard in particular, the AFP, and we will resume in this room tomorrow morning at 9.00 a.m. thank you.

Committee adjourned at 11.00 p.m.