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LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
Australian Federal Police
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LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
Australian Federal Police
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LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
(SENATE-Tuesday, 25 May 2004)
- Start of Business
- Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
- Australian Federal Police
- Australian Institute of Criminology
- Criminology Research Council
- CrimTrac Agency
- Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
- Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia
- Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner
- Australian Customs Service
- Senator Ellison
Content WindowLEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATION COMMITTEE - 25/05/2004 - attorney-general's portfolio - Australian Federal Police
CHAIR —I welcome Commissioner Keelty, Ms Fagan and Mr Lawler.
Senator KIRK —I have a media release of 19 May from the justice minister saying that the government announces that two AFP officers will be deployed to Jordan to train Iraqi police. I understand that the text of the announcement mentions that Australia initially received a request from the United Kingdom in October last year to provide police trainers. Can you confirm that that is correct?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator KIRK —So the request was made from the United Kingdom in October 2003? Was a response to that request provided by the government or by the AFP?
—I am not sure whether the government made a response, but as a result of the request there was consideration given to establishing a training team to go over. We had a person in Jordan for most of the early part of this month. That person has been doing an advance to see what the conditions and training would be. The two people who have been selected will fly out on Friday and start work in Jordan on Sunday as part of an international group that will be providing the training. There are 400 police from 13 countries that they will be contributing to.
Senator KIRK —Was the initial request that was made in October last year by the UK the one and only request that was made? Was there any follow-up?
Mr Keelty —It is the only one I am aware of.
Senator KIRK —I might just ask the minister. Was that the only request—the one made in October?
Senator Ellison —I will take that on notice. You will notice that in that release I said that it was supported by the CPA. The question of whether any other countries joined in the request is something I will check on. If you give me a moment, I can give you a definitive answer on that.
Senator KIRK —Thank you. The announcement also mentions that the deployment will be funded by AusAID. Is somebody able to tell me what amount has been budgeted for this deployment in the current financial year and in each year over the forward estimates?
Mr Keelty —From the AFP's perspective—I cannot comment on AusAID's budget—the budget is still being prepared for consideration by AusAID.
Senator KIRK —So that is something I should ask AusAID about?
Mr Keelty —Yes.
Senator KIRK —Minister, do you have any further information as to the budget for this deployment or is that something that I need to ask AusAID officials about?
Senator Ellison —We will take that on notice and I will see if I can get you a quick answer. It could well be AusAID. That press release was a joint one, I think, with the Minister for Defence.
Senator KIRK —No.
Senator Ellison —Sorry, that was the East Timor one. I am confusing that one with the East Timor release, which I think was on the same day. I will take that on notice and get the information to you.
Senator KIRK —Thank you. Finally, are you able to tell me whether the deployment is for a period or whether it is for an indefinite period?
Mr Keelty —The initial deployment will be for four months. During that four months, it will be assessed as to whether a further contribution can be made.
Senator KIRK —Who makes that assessment?
Mr Keelty —We will do that in consultation with the two people we are deploying.
Senator KIRK —You mentioned that they are leaving on Friday to begin their work. Do they begin on Monday?
—They will actually start on Sunday. Just to correct something on that four-month assessment, it is anticipated that the deployment will be up to 12 months, but we are going to reassess it after the first four months.
Senator KIRK —So the conclusion of the four months will be four months from this Sunday?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator KIRK —Did the AFP officers who are being sent have to receive specific training before they left or were they already trained to a level where they would be able to pass on their—
Mr Keelty —I met both of them yesterday. Both of them have had previous overseas deployment experience. They have received training specifically preparing them for the deployment to Jordan. In addition to that, I mentioned that we had a third officer who had been in Jordan already to do an advance on the training. They have obviously met that person and been debriefed by that person.
Senator KIRK —So effectively there will be three AFP officers involved in the deployment—or are there only two?
Mr Keelty —Only two.
Senator KIRK —You said that the officers had previous experience, plus they received additional training. How much additional training did they receive?
Mr Keelty —They received specific briefings on Jordan and they also received the generic international deployment group training, which is 12 days of preparation.
Senator KIRK —Thank you. I think I will wait to see if the minister is able to provide me with any information on the other issues. I will move on to another area—deployment of AFP officers to Papua New Guinea. I notice from the statements that $65.5 million has been allocated for 2003-04 for 230 AFP officers to be deployed to Papua New Guinea. Can you advise the committee on the current status of negotiations with PNG over the application of criminal law to these deployed officers?
Mr Keelty —It still has not been agreed. The current situation is that the New Zealand police have immunity to be part of an intervention force in Bougainville but that immunity does not extend to Australian police officers. The Australian police officers are seeking full immunity prior to deployment for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that our experience in the Solomon Islands is that we have had to deal with entrenched corruption both within the police and in some sectors of government. It is our experience that, without immunity from prosecution, it is going to be difficult for us to involve ourselves in the sort of work we intend to involve ourselves in in Papua New Guinea. That is not to say that we are seeking some sort of immunity from prosecution if our people transgress when they are deployed, but it will enable them to carry out their duties without being unduly threatened because of the nature of the work that they are doing.
Senator KIRK —You say that negotiations are ongoing. When did the negotiations begin? How far have they progressed? Who are you speaking to about this?
—That is a matter for government.
Senator KIRK —Perhaps I can ask you then, Minister. What progress has been made in the negotiations with the Papua New Guinea government?
Senator Ellison —That is being handled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It would be best if the question were directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. You will get the big picture, if you like, not just part of it. In fact, I have not been involved in the negotiations. It is best to ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Senator KIRK —So you and the Attorney have not had any involvement at all in the negotiations?
Senator Ellison —We are being kept informed. Of course there has been some discussion in relation to the requirements as to immunity and legal opinion. There have been discussions across the board, naturally. We are very concerned that our personnel have sufficient immunity and that the legal status of Australian law enforcement officers is clearly defined. We have public officials up in New Guinea at the moment. They come under different provisions. Of course, that has been the subject of a prior agreement. I think the best thing is to address those questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Senator KIRK —Perhaps then I can just ask, given that there is this $65[half ] million allocated: if the officers are not deployed by the end of the financial year what is going to happen to that money?
Mr Keelty —The total allocation for 2003-04 was $95.3 million. We will spend $3 million in start-up training. We have been working with the state police to try to get the numbers together because, once the Papua New Guinea government passes the legislation for immunity, it will be an almost immediate deployment. We stand ready to deploy. Some of the balance of funds will be returned to the Department of Finance and Administration. It is yet to be determined how much we will spend before the end of the year on salaries et cetera for police who have been identified to go. I will be in a position to give you a more complete answer at the end of the financial year but we have been discussing with the department of finance the return of funds that are unspent to the department.
Senator KIRK —Will the AFP retain any of the funds or will they be returned to—
Mr Keelty —We will retain a quantum that will cover the establishment costs and ongoing salaries. There is a start-up cost involved in these projects that we are actually spending. We have to equip the people and we have to purchase equipment because they need to be ready to go once the legislation is passed.
Senator KIRK —So you have officers who are ready to go who are being paid currently but who are unable to go because there is no immunity?
—That is correct. We are in negotiations with the states to bring more officers on, because we cannot, from within the numbers of the AFP, meet the full contingent costs. Just to give you a more complete picture on that previous answer, we did get immunity from prosecution in the treaty that was agreed between Australia and the Solomon Islands government. When we deploy to places like East Timor and Cyprus we are actually under the authority of the United Nations. So this immunity from prosecution is not an unusual request, and it has been a part of the previous deployments that we have been involved in.
Senator KIRK —But this one is not under the auspices of the United Nations; it is different.
Mr Keelty —No, it is very similar to the Solomon Islands, where the government treaty arrangement will provide the overarching framework for immunity from prosecution.
Senator KIRK —So that will be contained in the treaty. Is that what you are saying?
Mr Keelty —Yes, that is correct.
Senator KIRK —And then passed through the Papua New Guinea parliament.
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator KIRK —And there is no need for any legislation in Australia, is there, to give effect to that?
Mr Keelty —No.
Senator KIRK —I notice also that the budget provides $20.3 million over four years for AFP support to Melanesian countries. It says in the papers that the program currently funds eight AFP officers in Suva, Port Vila, Honiara, Port Moresby and Canberra. Is that program referred to as the Law Enforcement Cooperation Program? Is that the same program?
Mr Keelty —Yes, it is part of it. It is actually rollover funding for an existing program in Melanesia and to continue the funding of the work that is already going on in the South Pacific.
Senator KIRK —So it is just a continuation to keep those eight AFP officers in their positions and doing their work?
Mr Keelty —That is correct. That is $20.3 million over four years, with $5 million in this next financial year.
Senator KIRK —So there is no increase in the number of officers? It is just the eight who are currently there?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator KIRK —How long will that program continue? Is it definite, ongoing?
Mr Keelty —We are funded for four years. No doubt the government will review that with us at the end of four years.
Senator KIRK —Air security officers have $15.7 million over four years. Can you advise the committee how many additional officers will be funded under this measure of $15.7 million?
Mr Keelty —We have not publicised the number of staff. I am not sure whether the government wants to make a comment. The air security officer program is a covert operation, so we have tried to minimise the publicity we give it. Suffice to say that that funding, which is $15.7 million over four years and $3.9 million this financial year, will provide us with additional capacity to take on some of the international deployments we are now doing.
—So you are unable to advise the committee of any more details in relation to that?
Mr Keelty —I do not think I can. It is not that I do not want to. My advice is that we, the AFP, have not publicised the numbers.
Senator Ellison —We will just take that on notice. The money is there; it has been mentioned. We certainly do not go into the deployment of personnel, flights, the number of flights and which ones they are. We have announced previously the program's number. I will just take some advice on that and we will come back to the committee.
Senator KIRK —Thank you very much, Minister.
Senator LUDWIG —I have a couple of questions in this area, too. The Sunday Telegraph reported that the air security officers had secured a 45 per cent pay rise, a 200 per cent increase in overtime allowance, a $7,000 flying allowance, employer funded mobile phones for personal and work calls, and five weeks annual leave. I make an observation about that. It seems to me that that is an industrial matter between either the department or the AFP and the employees concerned. What is the total that that is going to cost? I think that is a legitimate question I can ask. Where in the budget is that provided for?
Mr Keelty —It is within budget. It is still under negotiation, as you rightly point out. What we are trying to do is negotiate an AWA within the limits of the budget that we have.
Senator LUDWIG —Do you know what the proposed total cost is or expected to be?
Mr Keelty —I have not got it but I can provide it for you.
Senator LUDWIG —Is that to be absorbed in the increased funding that has been provided to the department or is that to be absorbed within the present budget?
Mr Keelty —That is correct. Because I have not negotiated successfully the AWA, I cannot give you the cost. Once it is negotiated, with the consent of government I am happy to provide it.
Senator LUDWIG —When is that likely to be? Is there a date that you hope to have it finalised by?
Mr Keelty —It is close to finalisation—that is the advice that I have got. I can tell you that the rough cost of it—and I do not want to do anything that might upset the negotiations—would be around the $350,000 figure.
Senator LUDWIG —As you have indicated, that will be funded out of your existing budget. Where from your existing budget will it come from? Will it mean fewer AFP officers or a lesser refit?
Mr Keelty —No. It is part of the budget that we have for the ASO program.
Senator LUDWIG —So it will be funded out of that budget?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator LUDWIG —So will it mean fewer sky marshals?
Mr Keelty —No, it will not mean fewer sky marshals. We are doing it within budget.
—You do not want to tell me how you will deal with it in the budget? Did you have that much of an excess?
Mr Keelty —When we put the budget bit in for staff, we considered these terms and conditions as part of that budget.
Senator LUDWIG —I refer to the National Missing Persons Unit. Is that now part of the Australian Federal Police responsibility?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator LUDWIG —Whereabouts is that located?
Mr Keelty —It is in our head office.
Senator LUDWIG —It was transferred in 2003?
Mr Keelty —That is correct. The National Missing Persons Unit was initially part of the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence. The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence was absorbed into the Australian Crime Commission and the National Missing Persons Unit was not a neat fit into the ACC, so I agreed to take the National Missing Persons Unit into the AFP. It sits with our National Manager, Economic and Special Operations.
Senator LUDWIG —Does the Attorney-General's Department still fund that section or is it now funded out of your budget?
Mr Lawler —That is funded out of our budget.
Senator LUDWIG —You must have a lot of slack in your budget if you are picking up the sky marshals and now the National Missing Persons Unit. Don't tell the APS!
Mr Lawler —It is a relatively modest amount of money.
Senator LUDWIG —How much is it?
Mr Keelty —I think there are only two persons involved. If that is not right, I will correct the record.
Senator LUDWIG —What is the annual budget? How much do you provide?
Mr Keelty —If I may, I will take that on notice.
Senator LUDWIG —Right.
Mr Keelty —It arose two years ago. I remember looking at it at the time and there seemed to be no issue. I spoke to the other commissioners, because it is a National Missing Persons Unit, and people seemed comfortable with the arrangements. As I recall, I spoke to the then deputy secretary of the department, Ian Carnell, and we came to this arrangement, but I cannot recall the detail of it at the moment.
Senator LUDWIG —Are the current functions of the unit the same or have they changed since becoming part of the AFP?
Mr Keelty —As I understand it, they are exactly the same. I have just been advised that it is of the order of $200,000, but I will give you the correct figure later.
Senator LUDWIG —So far A-G's have been able to squeeze about $500,000 out of your budget?
—I will give you the total arrangement.
Senator LUDWIG —Do you measure the performance of the unit? It is a critical unit in the sense that they provide a national register of missing persons. Is there a way that you monitor their performance?
Mr Lawler —The management of the National Missing Persons Unit is done in conjunction and close consultation with the states, as the commissioner has mentioned, as the central repository. I would need to take advice on the specific performance indicators of that program. I can advise the committee that recently the officer in charge of the National Missing Persons Unit presented the national managers group with an overview of its activities and with some strategies to further enhance that capacity. So there are some discussions occurring and some work being undertaken to further enhance that program.
Senator LUDWIG —That leads me to the next area I want to explore with you. It seems to me that you are in discussions to develop a plan or a strategic direction for the unit. Is that under way?
Mr Lawler —Yes, it is.
Senator LUDWIG —You do not have one at the moment?
Mr Lawler —A plan has been submitted to the national managers group along with a detailed briefing of the work in the National Missing Persons Unit. That particular proposal is under consideration.
Senator LUDWIG —When is that likely to be approved?
Mr Lawler —I would think within the next two months or so.
Senator LUDWIG —There was not one before? I just want to put it in context. Was it part of the development when it came into the AFP?
Mr Lawler —It was part of the development when it came into the AFP and how it might be best integrated. We are taking a fresh look at the activities of the unit to make sure it is performing to maximum effect and providing best possible service to the states and to the community of Australia.
Senator LUDWIG —It has taken a little time, hasn't it? The unit came in in 2003.
Mr Lawler —I do not know that I would altogether agree with that. It is a process of evolution. The centre is being staffed and we are working on the strategic plan.
Senator LUDWIG —Are the clients the state police departments and the like? Who are they?
Mr Lawler —There is a range of stakeholders in respect of the National Missing Persons Unit. The states and territories are integral in that process, along with a range of other non-government organisations and, in a broader context, the Australian community and those families who, unfortunately, have missing persons.
Senator LUDWIG —Thank you.
—I have a press release here from Senator Minchin dated 11 May talking about a relocation to the parliamentary zone of the AFP premises. I understand that the intention is that the AFP will be relocated to Anzac Park West by 2006. Which of the operations of the AFP will be moved to these new premises?
Mr Keelty —We have not got the detailed plan of that yet. My understanding is that the premises will be increased in size from its current size of about 12,000 square metres to 15,000 square metres. With the decision that has just been announced the planning will be under way to finalise what areas will go in there—what areas will be complementary. The AFP, through integration with the APS, currently occupies 10 properties in Canberra. This is a move to try to consolidate into particularly two areas: one at Majura, which we have just started developing, and this initiative in Anzac Park West.
Senator KIRK —The intention is to have the entire operation in two locations eventually?
Mr Keelty —Eventually, that is correct.
Senator KIRK —By mid-2006 or thereabouts.
Mr Keelty —That is what we are aiming for. Whether that is practical in terms of where our forensic laboratories are currently located at Weston remains to be seen. You may be unaware that we lost our indoor firing range during the Canberra bushfires; we have had to relocate that. The building at Weston was originally built as a police college, but it has not been used as a police college since the early eighties so it has been made to fit some various functions that are not really suitable for a modern work environment. Principally, the operational areas that are currently housed in our headquarters will move across to the new headquarters.
Senator KIRK —So, currently, you say that 10 properties are being occupied, reducing down to two. What will happen to the remaining eight properties? Are they on leases which will come to an end?
Mr Keelty —They are all on leases. The only property we own is the Majura property.
Senator KIRK —Will the relocation cost that will inevitably be involved be absorbed within your current budget?
Mr Keelty —As I understand it, it is $22 million and has been included in our capital base.
Senator KIRK —Will the $22 million be the total amount of the relocation cost?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator KIRK —So you do not have any detail about when the relocation will commence? You say it is still in the planning stages as to—
Mr Keelty —We have to go through the Public Works Committee with this proposal. As I understand it—I do not have the date in my head—their next meeting is in New Zealand, and we are trying to make the deadline for that meeting, which is in August.
—There are a couple of matters. I was following up the white paper with ASIO and the A-G's department earlier, although, to be fair, I did not get very far with ASIO in respect of it. We might try with the AFP and see how we go. Was the AFP consulted by DFAT in the process of writing the terrorism white paper? I will preface my remarks by saying that, as I understand it, there was a synopsis—perhaps that is a way of describing it—which included headings, then descriptors of what the paragraphs might contain and then subsequently a draft. So I use the words `synopsis' and `draft' as meaning separate documents. Were you consulted in relation to both the synopsis and the draft?
Mr Keelty —If you do not mind, the acting deputy commissioner, John Lawler, is across this issue in more detail than I am. As I understand it, we have had an officer sitting on the IDC that has been looking at this.
Mr Lawler —That is the position, Senator. We have been involved in the interdepartmental committee in relation to the white paper.
Senator LUDWIG —And that included both the synopsis and the draft?
Mr Lawler —I understand that to be the case, yes.
Senator LUDWIG —When was the synopsis forwarded to the AFP for consideration?
Mr Lawler —I cannot tell you a specific date in relation to that.
Senator LUDWIG —Perhaps you could take that on notice—
Mr Lawler —Yes.
Senator LUDWIG —and when the draft was forwarded to the AFP for consideration.
Mr Lawler —In relation to that, I do not have specific detail that either of those two documents was forwarded to the AFP, but I can tell the committee that the AFP was represented at the interdepartmental committee where these matters, I understand, were discussed.
Senator LUDWIG —Who sat on the interdepartmental committee?
Mr Lawler —I understand it was our national manager of counterterrorism.
Senator LUDWIG —Was that with DFAT and other agencies, as far as you are aware? Can you help me understand that process.
Mr Lawler —Yes, it was.
Senator LUDWIG —Who else do you know was there?
Mr Lawler —I understand that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation were there. But there are others who are better placed to give a full list, given that this particular program and project was being led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Senator LUDWIG —So DFAT was the lead agency in relation to the interdepartmental committee and the synopsis and draft?
Mr Lawler —Certainly.
Senator LUDWIG —Do you know what form the consultations took? Was it only confined to the officer from the AFP in the interdepartmental committee or were the synopsis and, subsequently, the draft forwarded to other officers within the AFP for consideration?
Mr Lawler —I would have to get specific advice as to what track those two documents either took or did not take within the organisation.
—While you are having a look at that issue and flowing from it, could you take on notice to look at whether the AFP committed staff other than the one officer you indicated to both the synopsis and the draft in dealing with the consultative process or whether it was confined just to the interdepartmental committee? Your further inquiries might help the committee understand that process.
Mr Lawler —Indeed. By way of further assistance, in the normal course of events for such matters, advice and guidance and input would be received from other areas within the organisation. I just cannot say whether on this particular occasion that occurred and if so to what extent.
Senator LUDWIG —Are you able to say what the AFP recommended or suggested in relation to, firstly, the synopsis and, secondly, the draft?
Mr Lawler —No, I am not.
Senator LUDWIG —Is it that you are not aware of it or are unable to say?
Mr Lawler —I do not have the detail on that.
Senator LUDWIG —Perhaps you can see what you can find out for the committee. I am specifically interested in whether or not the AFP made any substantive recommendations or suggestions to the synopsis, whether or not they were picked up in the draft, whether you subsequently made any substantive suggestions or recommendations to the draft and whether they were picked up or not in the final draft, if there is one? That goes back to the earlier question as to whether or not we have come to the conclusion of the process or whether it is still ongoing within the AFP. I know that was a long question.
Mr Lawler —It certainly was.
Senator LUDWIG —You can track that on the transcript.
Mr Lawler —I will do the best I can.
Senator LUDWIG —You do not know whether that consultative process has come to a conclusion, do you?
Mr Lawler —No, I do not.
Senator LUDWIG —Is the officer who sat on the interdepartmental committee available?
Mr Lawler —I dare say the officer would be available, yes.
Senator LUDWIG —Is he here today?
Mr Lawler —I understand he is, yes.
Senator LUDWIG —Would it be unusual to ask him to the table to provide any additional information or would you prefer to take those on notice?
Mr Lawler —We would prefer to take those on notice.
Senator LUDWIG —As tempting as it might seem, I will agree to that.
Mr Lawler —Thank you.
—When you have a look at that, I would be also interested in whether or not there were any concerns that the AFP expressed in relation to the DFAT document. I guess to put it into context: whether or not it was either too banal or too bland or whether it was alarmist, whether the AFP made any comments about that and whether they were picked up. I guess that is the nub of the issue.
The other matter is the investigation of Mr Ruddock. On 31 March 2004 Senator Ellison issued a media release stating that the AFP had investigated two allegations of improper influence of Mr Philip Ruddock as immigration minister and had identified no criminality. When was each of those investigations completed? I take it they are completed?
Mr Keelty —That is correct. There were three referrals. The first was a referral from DIMIA received on 11 June 2003 regarding the alleged unauthorised disclosure of DIMIA migration related information. The second one was an investigation referred from Ms Julia Gillard, the member of parliament, on 15 July 2003 regarding a $220,000 payment made by Mr Dante Tan to Mr Karim Kisrwani in order for Mr Kisrwani to influence the then minister for immigration. The third one was a referral from DIMIA on 19 July 2003 regarding $50,000 worth of stamps given to Mr Ruddock, the then minister for immigration. The investigations are all closed and there were no prosecutions. They were finalised last month. I will get the dates for those, Senator, if you would like.
Senator LUDWIG —Yes. Was a report of each investigation provided to the minister?
Mr Lawler —Yes, I understand the minister has been briefed in relation to the finalisation of the investigation.
Senator LUDWIG —When was that?
Mr Lawler —To be accurate I will need to get a specific date. It was within the last month but I will need to be specific on that.
Senator LUDWIG —If you would not mind taking that on notice that would be helpful. I think it was Ellison's statement that I earlier mentioned was issued on 31 March, so was that issued prior to the matter being concluded by the AFP? We are now in May. That was 31 March. Last month was not March.
Mr Keelty —I do not have Senator Ellison's media release but I can assure you that—
Senator LUDWIG —I can provide it for you.
Mr Keelty —What I am saying is I can assure you that we would not have briefed him to issue that release prior to the finalisation of the investigation. If you could bear with me, we will get the dates of the finalisation of the investigation.
Senator LUDWIG —That would be helpful. There was a statement issued by the AFP on 15 May headed `Man arrested for in-flight incident'. Do you recall that?
Mr Lawler —If you have the document there, Senator, that would be useful.
Senator LUDWIG —No, I do not, but I suspect it is on the Web.
CHAIR —That is not much help to the witnesses, Senator Ludwig.
Senator LUDWIG —No. We do not allow them to bring computers, do we?
CHAIR —They should not be expected to have to search the Web to respond to your questions in the context of an estimates discussion either.
—No, but I would have thought they would have at least recalled a statement that was released by the AFP on 15 May without me having to bring all the statements along. I can bring all the statements that I want to question the AFP on in relation to matters, but one would expect in relation to something as recent as 15 May that they would have some recollection of the information they are putting out.
CHAIR —At the same time I do not expect the witnesses to rely only on memory when you have the advantage, Senator Ludwig, of referring to a written copy or at least to prepared information in relation thereto.
Senator LUDWIG —It is only a brief part. I will ask the AFP if they have any recollection. They can say yes or no. That is quite legitimate. Do they have any recollection of a statement issued on 15 May?
Senator Ellison —What is the incident?
Senator LUDWIG —A man arrested for an in-flight incident.
CHAIR —It is a release of 15 May.
Senator Ellison —I think that was a Thai Airways—
CHAIR —I understand that, Minister, but I am actually trying to establish a process here. I think if we continue to raise questions of witnesses that pertain to documentation that members of the committee have and to which witnesses do not have access when the questions are being pursued, that does make it difficult for the witnesses.
Senator Ellison —I agree entirely.
Senator LUDWIG —Well, I will not refer to the statement at all. Was a man arrested around 15 May? That is simple; I do not need the statement. You can tell me that one.
Mr Keelty —I apologise, Madam Chair, for the confusion here because two of us were away last week. On 15 May, if this is the matter you are referring to, Senator—
Senator LUDWIG —Was a man arrested around 15 May?
Mr Keelty —A person was arrested for endangering the safety of an aircraft, under section 22 of the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991, and for offensive and disorderly behaviour, under section 256AA of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988. The alleged offender was granted bail to appear before the Perth Court of Petty Sessions on Thursday, 20 May 2004. As I recall, there were some press reports around the investigation prior to charging. If it is the Thai Airways issue, which I think it may be, there was a delay in the referral from Thai Airways to the AFP on the matter. We were not notified by Thai Airways about the alleged incident until we initiated contact on Monday, 10 May and Thai Airways officials advised the AFP that the company would not be referring the matter to us. It was only after some negotiation with the airline that the matter was finally resolved, and the charges are now before the court.
Senator LUDWIG —In respect of the statement made by you on 16 March and which was produced and released, was that called a retracting statement? Perhaps you could clarify what it was referred to as.
Mr Keelty —You have called it a retracting statement, Senator. I issued a media statement.
—What was the purpose of the media statement?
Mr Keelty —To clarify the views that I had expressed on the Sunday program on 14 March.
Senator LUDWIG —Who produced the media statement?
Mr Keelty —It was my statement that was released. It was an iterative process. I was in Sydney attending the commissioners conference, and I was doing it through my media people in Sydney liaising with my media people here in Canberra.
Senator LUDWIG —When you say it was an iterative process, is one draft prepared and then you have a look it? I assume you were not close to the media person that you indicated was assisting you in the process. Was there a fax? How did the iterative process develop during the course of the day?
Mr Keelty —I had a media person from my office with me in Sydney. I was attending the conference so we collaborated on the initial draft and I went back into the conference. That draft was sent to Canberra. As I say, it was an iterative process and a final draft came back to me late that afternoon or early that evening. I was happy with that draft and that is the statement that went out.
Senator LUDWIG —The statement effectively started as a draft and then there were various finalisations of that and then a final one that was then approved by you?
Mr Keelty —That is correct. That is not an unusual circumstance, particularly when I am away from my office.
Senator LUDWIG —No. So it was done in contact with the media office. Was anyone else in the media office or anyone else in the AFP brought into the loop in relation to the statement? Were they questioned or asked about it? Were they asked to provide input into it?
Mr Keelty —It went from the business centre at the Westin Hotel where I was saying in Sydney to my media centre here in Canberra.
Senator LUDWIG —Was it then forwarded by you or the media centre to other AFP officers that you are aware of for their consideration or input?
Mr Keelty —It was sent to PM&C and also to Federal Agent Fagan, who is doing my chief of staff role.
Senator LUDWIG —Why was it sent to PM&C?
Mr Keelty —I had had some discussions with the secretary of PM&C earlier that day and when I said that I was issuing a statement of clarification we agreed that it would be good sense to allow his department to have a look at the statement before I released it. That is not unusual, particularly in joint matters or matters where more than one department has an interest.
Senator LUDWIG —Who was that from PM&C?
Mr Keelty —I am not sure. I initially spoke to Dr Shergold but I am not sure that Dr Shergold had direct input after that. I have not discussed it with Dr Shergold since.
—So you are not sure of the contact in PM&C as to whom you sent it to?
Mr Keelty —I am not sure whom my media people were dealing with—whether they were dealing directly with Dr Shergold or someone in Dr Shergold's office. As part of the collaborative process and the iterative process, the final draft that came back to me was consistent with the message I wanted to send and so I sent it.
Senator LUDWIG —Perhaps we might just step back a fraction. I am unclear, and perhaps you can help me with this, as to whether the process was started by you. Or was it PM&C that contacted you and suggested that you make a statement? Or was it part of your consideration that they should be involved subsequent to you making the clarifying statement, or the media statement?
Mr Keelty —To put some context to it, the Sunday program—strangely enough!—was on the Sunday. Monday was a public holiday in Canberra. The matter had gained some momentum in the press between the Sunday and the Monday. By the Tuesday I had my own concerns about the way the matter was being reported. I had a discussion with Dr Shergold, who until that point in time, as I recall, had not been fully across the issue because he had been away—and I obviously was in Sydney. We decided that it would be a good idea to put out a clarification statement.
Senator LUDWIG —Was that conversation with Dr Shergold initiated by you or did Dr Shergold ring you?
Mr Keelty —He rang me.
Senator LUDWIG —Was that on the Sunday or the Monday?
Mr Keelty —It was on the Tuesday.
Senator LUDWIG —Was it in the morning?
Mr Keelty —Yes.
Senator LUDWIG —And after that you decided to issue a clarifying statement. Was that on his suggestion?
Mr Keelty —It was not necessarily on his suggestion. By that time I was concerned myself about the amount of attention the matter was receiving. As I say in the statement of clarification, one of the things that was concerning me was the focus on one particular part of what I said, which in full context was not consistent with statements I had made and speeches I had given. To me it was important to put out a clarification statement that dealt with the issue more appropriately. It was on my mind to do that much earlier. In fact I thought of doing it on the Sunday, but none of us expected at that point in time just how much the issue would take off.
Senator LUDWIG —So, when Dr Shergold rang you on the Tuesday, at that point time you had only considered issuing a clarifying statement. What was the conversation that Dr Shergold had with you that led you to conclude that you should issue a clarifying statement? Am I putting that the right way around?
—My concern about putting out a clarification statement started on the Sunday. I do not think anyone thought the matter would still be going by the Tuesday. When it was, it was a mutual decision. Certainly it was not at the direction of Dr Shergold that the statement was issued. I was just as keen to have the matter stopped and put behind me, because it had just taken off in the media.
Senator LUDWIG —Does Dr Shergold often ring you about these issues?
Mr Keelty —Not often, but it is not unusual for me to receive a call from the Secretary of PM&C on an issue. Dr Shergold's predecessor has contacted me previously, and Dr Shergold and I have spoken on other issues.
Senator LUDWIG —In the conversation you then had, did he suggest that you should issue a clarifying statement? I know it is hard to recollect the exact words, but I think this is one of those issues that did seem to get air and requires some clarification as to the process that took place.
Mr Keelty —It was a mutual decision. It was not a direction from Dr Shergold. It was something, as I say, that I was happy to do and keen to do because of the way that the matter had taken off and the momentum that it had gathered.
Senator LUDWIG —Did you subsequently contact your media centre or Ms Fagan to work out how you would undertake the task?
Mr Keelty —Ms Fagan was here in Canberra. I had a media person with me in Sydney. I sat with that media person in Sydney and drafted something up and left her to communicate that back down to the office here in Canberra. I obviously was trying to, at that time, focus on the commissioners conference. Then I came back out during the breaks in the commissioners conference to see what progress had been made on the draft.
Senator LUDWIG —Did Dr Shergold ask you to send him a draft at the conversation you had with him, or ring him back about the draft that you had developed?
Mr Keelty —It was agreed between Dr Shergold and me that his office would receive a copy of the draft and that we would collaborate on the final document that went out. That, as I say, is not unusual when two or more agencies have an interest in a matter.
Senator LUDWIG —Can you recollect whether PM&C supplied you with any form of words or statements in relation to the draft?
Mr Keelty —The first draft was my draft, written by me and my media person. The iterative process was from comments, I imagine, from a number of people who saw the first draft. The final draft came back to me late that day, which was not inconsistent with my initial draft.
Senator LUDWIG —Are you aware of whether PM&C made any amendments to the initial draft that you had developed?
Mr Keelty —I think they did, but what they were I do not know. They were not in material difference to what I had intended to put out anyway.
Senator LUDWIG —At what point did you then send it back to Dr Shergold, or was their office involved in the process?
—As I understand, their office was involved in the process with my media person, and then the final draft came to me late that day, because it did not go out until late that evening.
Senator LUDWIG —So you are not aware of whether PM&C included any additional words, changed any words or made any amendment?
Mr Keelty —It was different to my original draft but not a material difference in the sense that I was still very happy with the final draft. I would not have put it out if I was not happy with it.
Senator LUDWIG —Did the final draft come from PM&C?
Mr Keelty —No, it was largely my draft with some suggestions from PM&C. It came back to me from my office here in Canberra.
Senator LUDWIG —When it came back to you was it from PM&C or was it from your media centre?
Mr Keelty —My media centre here in Canberra.
Senator LUDWIG —So the media centre was in contact, as far as you are aware with—
Mr Keelty —PM&C.
Senator LUDWIG —During the week of 15 March did you have any discussion with any minister or ministerial staff about—to put it sensitively—your future with the AFP?
Ms Fagan —We will take that on notice for a short moment. We are just revising the chronology at the moment.
Senator LUDWIG —All right. To go back to an earlier issue: you indicated that you had thought on the Sunday about issuing the clarifying statement. Was there anything that prompted you on the Sunday?
Ms Fagan —In relation to the statements on the Sunday, it was not presented that there would be any statement put out until it was discussed on the Tuesday by the commissioner, as he earlier said.
Senator LUDWIG —Was there anyone who contacted you, or did you contact Mr Keelty, on the Sunday and suggest it?
Senator Ellison —Madam Chair, it may be useful if we have a short break. We can get that detail, and I think it will assist the committee.
Proceedings suspended from 11.00 a.m. to 11.20 a.m.
Senator Ellison —I have a copy of the Commonwealth fraud control guidelines.
CHAIR —Excellent, we have been waiting for that.
Senator Ellison —That is May 2002, and if I table those it might be a good start. We should have the details on AusAID for Iraq and those other details I took on notice to the committee shortly.
CHAIR —Thank you very much for that. I will have the document given to Senator Ludwig, who has the greatest interest in this matter at the moment.
—Is that the latest document—the May 2002 guidelines?
Senator Ellison —They were given to me as such.
Senator LUDWIG —I just thought I would ask, to make sure.
Senator Ellison —If there is anything else we can give you ahead of that appearance, we will do so to assist in the expedition of the matter.
CHAIR —Thanks very much, Minister. Is that acceptable, Senator Ludwig?
Senator LUDWIG —Yes, thanks.
Senator Ellison —They are the latest.
CHAIR —That clarifies that point, at least.
Senator LUDWIG —Mr Keelty, we will go back to the clarifying statement. I used the word earlier `retraction' and I think you disagreed with that. What would you call it? I have since then used the word `clarifying' but I am not sure whether they are my words or your words.
Mr Keelty —They are my words. In fact, I used those words in a statement because I was particularly careful not to resile from what I had said on the Sunday program.
Senator LUDWIG —My recollection of what you said on the Sunday was that you reflected upon those things. Did anyone contact you about that or was that something you reflected upon yourself—about then issuing a clarifying statement?
Mr Keelty —I had spoken to a number of people on the Sunday after the program and, as I mentioned, it was a public holiday here on the Monday, so there seemed to be a gap in some people's understanding of what had occurred. By the Tuesday it had gathered significant momentum and, to be honest with you, I thought a lot of it would have been over by the Sunday night if not the Monday. But when it was still going on the Tuesday it seemed sensible to me—and, as I said, I discussed it with Dr Shergold—to put out what I said was a clarification statement. I had been on the public record speaking about issues other than Iraq in terms of why Australia might have been a target for terrorism. It was only the week before that I gave a speech, which was the Commonwealth Day address in the New South Wales parliament, where I outlined my considered views that I believed I was in a position to state about why terrorism was going to be an ongoing problem for us. In a sense, there is no news in a lot of that. It is very much on the public record from other agencies as well as our own.
Senator LUDWIG —It is my recollection that on the Sunday program you were asked about whether you would retract the statement and you stood by the statement you made in relation to the risk. It does not seem to flow, but did you call someone on the Sunday or after the program did someone call you? Did the chief of staff from PM&C call you and ask you about the issue?
Mr Keelty —I was contacted by the Prime Minister's chief of staff after the interview on the Sunday program.
Senator LUDWIG —What was the nature of that conversation?
—I have a lot of conversations with a lot of staff to ministers and I am not sure that I should be giving the details of those conversations. Obviously I have to work with the government of the day, and I am quite happy to work with the government of the day. I think the conversations I have with any minister or their advisers should be treated in confidence.
Senator LUDWIG —Was the nature of the conversation to ask you to retract the statement that you made on the Sunday program, or to otherwise revise it or to put out a clarifying or retraction statement?
Mr Keelty —I think I just said, Senator—I am not sure if I am going to be overruled here—that I do not think it is appropriate for me to be describing my conversations with chiefs of staff or ministers for that matter without the consent of the minister involved.
Senator Ellison —Madam Chair, I think this is an issue which is much like advice to government where you have discussions between government and senior officials and, of course, officers such as Mr Keelty in relation to an agency such as the AFP. I have said on many occasions that I will not divulge the content of conversations. For instance, the Police Commissioner and I discuss many matters and I will simply say, `I have discussed the matter with the commissioner and that is it.' Or I may not have. The situation that we have had over a long period of time is that it really is a question of these sorts of discussions between senior officials and government—ministers, senior members of staff—are really that: they are conversations between those people and they are not the subject of disclosure.
CHAIR —Thank you, Minister.
Senator LUDWIG —I will go on. Do you still stand by the statement that you made on the Sunday program?
Mr Keelty —I do. There was a lot that I said on the Sunday program that was unfortunately overlooked. One was about the enormity of the task facing intelligence agencies and the need to have a lot of balance about our approach to this. I do not resile from the fact that, in answer to the question about the bombings in Madrid, I was very equivocal. I did not say it was definitely for one reason or another. I was deliberately equivocal. I do not see how I should resile from that if I was so equivocal, because, as I pointed out, it was in the early stage of investigation, so the outcome was at that time unknown.
Senator LUDWIG —If we then jump forward to the statement that was issued, are there copies of the drafts available from the time of the first draft—the one that you say you prepared—and the final draft?
Mr Keelty —I did not retain any drafts because we were at a business centre in a very public place in Sydney, a hotel. Whether other departments have, I do not know.
Senator LUDWIG —Did you want to add something, Ms Fagan? Did the media centre retain any drafts?
Ms Fagan —We received a faxed copy from the commissioner's media person on the Tuesday, which we typed into the computer. That was sent back and there were some amendments to that. That became the final media statement, which is the statement that we have.
Senator LUDWIG —Was there a document that was sent by PM&C?
—I am not aware of one. I have not seen one from PM&C to us.
Senator LUDWIG —As far as you are aware, or you, Mr Keelty, there is no statement from PM&C or a revision—perhaps we might use that word—in relation to the media statement that you prepared and that was then faxed to the media centre.
Ms Fagan —The only statement that left from the media office within my area of control, that I am aware of, was a final amended version that the commissioner had cleared that went over on the Tuesday afternoon before it was released at about 6.10 p.m. on that evening.
Senator LUDWIG —Mr Keelty, as I understand, your earlier evidence was that that was not materially different from your first draft that you prepared.
Mr Keelty —That is correct, Senator. I would not have put it out if it was.
Senator LUDWIG —There was no document from PM&C in relation to the media statement, or amendments that were suggested by PM&C in relation to the final draft that was put out—I am just trying to get this as right as I can—between the first draft that was prepared in Sydney and the final draft that was then put out, that you are aware of?
Ms Fagan —We do not hold one in the Canberra office that I am aware of.
Senator BOLKUS —Can I just clarify that? There was a document that you sent to PM&C at, I think you said, six o'clock in the afternoon.
Mr Keelty —No, the six o'clock in the afternoon was the final version. This was earlier in the morning.
Senator BOLKUS —Roughly what time would it have been in the morning? While you are trying to find that, was it before or after the conversation with Dr Shergold?
Mr Keelty —There was an initial conversation with Dr Shergold on that morning. It was after that that I sat with my media person to draft the original draft. I basically then left that draft to go down to Canberra whilst I went back into the commissioners conference. I do not know how many iterations there might have been or changes to the document during the day. Essentially the document that I finally put out and was very happy with largely reflected what I had written earlier in the day.
Senator BOLKUS —When was the first transmission of your document to PM&C?
Mr Keelty —As I recall, it would have been mid morning.
Senator BOLKUS —And that was after the one conversation with Dr Shergold?
Mr Keelty —That is correct. From my memory, I think I spoke with Dr Shergold only once that day.
Senator BOLKUS —After you faxed or emailed that document to PM&C they sent a revised document back?
Mr Keelty —I do not know that they sent a revised document back but I cannot say because it was out of my hands.
Senator BOLKUS —Does Ms Fagan know?
—I understand there were some revisions given to our media person who was with the commissioner in Sydney. Later that afternoon that statement came to the Canberra office.
Senator BOLKUS —Came from where?
Ms Fagan —From the Sydney office—from our media person to our media person here. The reason it was sent to us was so that we could badge it and put it out electronically to the media. We got that statement and typed it up. I think there were a couple of words that were changed. It went back to the commissioner, who was in an all-day conference, awaited his clearance and then we distributed it around 6.10 p.m.
Senator BOLKUS —We are trying to identify whether PM&C sent back a revision of your first document.
Senator LUDWIG —And where they sent it to.
Mr Keelty —Can we take that on notice? Neither federal agent Fagan nor I are familiar with that.
Senator LUDWIG —It seems to me that the area could be whether the Sydney media person who was with you at that time had direct contact with PM&C in relation to the amendment and that that may have been unknown to the media centre, or whether that had contact with the PM&C. Can we look at those two parts to ascertain the flow of documents? Although we have described an iterative process, it seems that there is a four-way link involved. I am interested in understanding that process and how it travelled. Are there copies available of the first draft that was faxed through and copies of any amendments that were made by PM&C, if there were such amendments? Where were they sent and are there copies available of those? Is there a copy of the final draft or the changes that might have been effected by the Canberra media centre? I think that covers it.
CHAIR —I think that is another one of your long questions, Senator Ludwig, but we will ensure that the Hansard is provided and reflects the issues you want raised.
Senator LUDWIG —Thank you.
Senator BOLKUS —You say there is no material difference between the drafts and the final document. Can you make those drafts available to us?
Senator Ellison —This is much like when you have, with government—
Senator BOLKUS —There will be an answer coming up here, I think!
CHAIR —I do not think you are in position to comment actually, Senator Bolkus.
Senator Ellison —I think it is a principle that working documents are not disclosed, for very good reasons which have stood the test of time. The fact is that a statement was made. The commissioner has made it very clear that that was his statement. Working drafts are not relevant. As they are in relation to any other area of government, the working documents behind the policy document that is developed or the statement that is made are not disclosed—and nor have they ever been.
Senator BOLKUS —Do we take that as being the answer from the commissioner as well?
—I think that is the answer, Senator Bolkus.
Senator Ellison —I think that enunciates the principle.
Senator LUDWIG —You are aware of Mr Downer's comments on the Sunday program on 14 March where he stated, and I quote:
I mean, I think he is just expressing a view which reflects a lot of the propaganda we're getting from al-Qaeda. I think what the bottom line of all this is, is that they, al-Qaeda, are out there running this line on Iraq.
Did these comments have any potential to impact on the morale of the AFP officers, especially senior AFP officers?
Ms Fagan —It is fair to say that Commissioner Keelty has had numerous supportive emails internally. I think the morale of our organisation remains as it was and as it is. We have staff surveys that do cover that. I would be happy to give you some of that information if you wish.
Senator LUDWIG —If they cover those particular issues, yes, that would be helpful to the committee.
Ms Fagan —The last survey was some months ago so it will not cover that particular issue. We do them every couple of years.
Senator LUDWIG —I think I have got those before from you.
CHAIR —Yes, the committee has received those before.
Senator LUDWIG —Are you aware of whether or not those comments have potentially undermined the public confidence in the office of the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police?
Senator Ellison —I wonder if that is really a fair question to ask Ms Fagan or the commissioner.
Senator LUDWIG —I will withdraw it then.
Senator Ellison —It is a question you can to put to the minister. You can normally put anything to the minister.
CHAIR —Would you like to put that to the minister, Senator Ludwig?
Senator LUDWIG —You are quite right, Minister. I was thinking of withdrawing it from the Australian Federal Police Commissioner and Ms Fagan and asking you then.
Senator Ellison —Now you are on solid ground. My view is that the Australian Federal Police continues to be an extremely fine police force—and it is internationally regarded as such. The work that it continues to do overseas and here is a manifestation of that. I have dealt with a lot of Australian Federal Police officers around the country. I deal with the AFP on a daily basis. I have not detected in any way, shape or manner any diminution of morale in the organisation. In fact the AFP continues to be an organisation which is highly motivated and focused. I do not think this matter that has been raised by Senator Ludwig has affected it in any way. I was just in the Solomons and Vanuatu the other day. I saw the extremely good work the AFP is doing in difficult conditions. I see that good work in my home state and I see it in other states as I travel. I think that answers the question pretty squarely.
—I think that certainly will assist Senator Ludwig.
Senator LUDWIG —I think that is right, Minister. The opposition supports the work of the AFP and values its contribution to national security, internal security and those other matters as well. I think that goes without saying. There is confidence from this side in the AFP. I have been here for five years now asking questions of both the AFP and other security agencies. In that five years they have demonstrated professionalism. I have actually passed on to others my impressions about the way they have conducted themselves and the way they have addressed fighting crime. I do not think there is a better organisation around, quite frankly.
Senator Ellison —Internally, as well, it should be noted that we recently had the integration of the APS with the AFP, which is perhaps one of the biggest things to happen organisationally to either of them in a very long time. That has gone very well. There was a whole approach to that including the union and others. It is a tribute to the two organisations that it was done in that manner. Also, an award was issued recently to the AFP. The AFP received a gold award for combining work with family life and for the pastoral care that is given to the men and women of the AFP. That is a testament to the organisation and the commissioner.
CHAIR —The committee has of course considered the first matter you referred to of the APS and AFP merger in its legislation committee capacity.
Senator Ellison —It has.
CHAIR —Previously I had the benefit of a large range of evidence on that and the committee's report reflects that.
Senator Ellison —I might say that the government is grateful to the committee for the assistance it received in that regard.
Senator LUDWIG —While we are on this topic, there is a view—and I think it is a correct view—that we are required to ensure that the AFP is independent and that it can act completely in its task and undertake its role without fear or favour. I am not going to explain the questions but they go to these central issues. I only have two remaining so we should not be too long on this subject. Then we will be able to move on to other areas that the federal police are involved in that I have an interest in. The question I wanted to come back to is whether there were any other suggestions by ministers or ministerial staff about other job offers that might have been made to the Australian Federal Police Commissioner in this period. Were any made to you, Mr Keelty?
Mr Keelty —No.
Senator LUDWIG —The only other question is: in respect of the public statements by the AFP, you continue to act independently and without fear or favour in your role and free of any interference?
Mr Keelty —That is correct.
Senator LUDWIG —I understand that in the 2002-03 budget measures, $1.5 million for five boats—they could not have been very big boats—was given to the Indonesian police.
Senator Ellison —They were built in Western Australia. They were very good boats.
—I do not think there is any doubt about that. I think it is just a size issue.
Senator Ellison —I will not touch that comment.
CHAIR —I am leaving it to the boys, myself.
Senator LUDWIG —I did not say anything. I was just wondering when they were provided.
Mr Keelty —I do not have the date but they were provided last year in a handing over ceremony. My memory is that it was around the middle of last year—in June last year.
Senator LUDWIG —What was the cost of each boat? Was there a market value or was there a depreciated cost? How was that worked out?
Mr Keelty —It is best that I take that on notice. There are issues about the cost of each of the boats. I think there is some provision for ongoing maintenance and for additional engines et cetera. If I could, I will take that on notice.
Senator LUDWIG —Is that ongoing maintenance engineering work that would be undertaken in Australia, or was it a matter that was then encapsulated in the sale or transfer, if I can use that phrase?
Mr Keelty —As I understand it, it was to be undertaken within Indonesia. The boats were freighted up in the middle of last year, as I said. They were deployed to various parts of Indonesia. I did have the detail here before but I do not have it before me today.
Senator LUDWIG —I am happy for you to take that on notice. I guess, as the chair has raised it, due consideration should be given as to the size of each boat, so we could establish that too.
Senator Ellison —Both the commissioner and I were at the handing over and certainly the Indonesian officials there were of a view that these boats would be of very good use for their operational requirements—speedy, ocean-going, but also for close proximity to shore, ideal for an archipelago situation and with swift response capability. With respect to the size, it has to be borne in mind that these vessels were for inshore quick response and were ideal for that purpose. Certainly the officials and the police whom we spoke to on the day were of a view that these vessels were ideal for the situations they required them for.
Senator LUDWIG —You mentioned that they were for inshore use—were they ocean-going? How far out do they go?
Senator Ellison —We took them out on Gage Roads—I do not know whether you are familiar with Gage Roads in Fremantle.
Senator LUDWIG —I would have to say no.
Senator Ellison —The tank limits how far they can go. Senator Scullion could tell you a lot more about the requirements—
Senator LUDWIG —I do not think that he wants to go there either.
Senator Ellison —They are vessels which are well-equipped for rough conditions albeit inshore because they do not have the range to go too far out.
—Perhaps you could take it on notice as to whether they are equipped for ocean-going—I am not a nautical person particularly—
Senator Ellison —Much like the Shark Cat.
Senator LUDWIG —How far out can they go and what is their range?
Mr Keelty —I will do that, Senator. I can tell you that we negotiated to some degree with the Indonesians about the specifications. They were largely for estuary work but because of the nature of the Indonesian archipelago obviously they had to have some ocean-going capacity. But I will get you the absolute details. I apologise; I have had that briefing here on previous occasions but since nearly 12 months has gone past I have not got it with me.
Senator LUDWIG —I think that someone on your side of the table said that they were ocean-going but we can establish what they are. I guess there is a difference between estuary and ocean-going in the sense that to me the latter would mean high seas but that may not be what you mean. So I am happy for it to be clarified.
Senator Ellison —They are much like the Shark Cats I mentioned. They can go out but not too far because they do not have the range. But they can take a decent swell and are very good in those conditions just as they are in an estuary or river condition.
Ms Fagan —They are designed for and have the specifications to go out about 12 nautical miles.
Senator LUDWIG —Perhaps you could include that in the answer—the specifications, who built them, how old they are and the size. They will usually tell you whether they have got a marine survey and what they are capable of doing within that specification, and you have probably got that in your file as well.
Ms Fagan —Certainly, Senator.
Senator LUDWIG —In respect of terrorism financing and the AFP's work under the Charter of the United Nations (Terrorism and Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2002, has a request for assistance been received by the AFP under these regulations? If there has been, perhaps you could provide us with how many requests there have been and during what periods in the last couple of financial years.
Mr Lawler —I can help in relation to part of that answer. The AFP joint counterterrorism teams are conducting a number of investigations into suspected terrorist financing in Australia. These investigations have all impacted upon domestic and international partnerships. Where appropriate, these investigations utilise intelligence from a range of sources and are conducted in partnership with agencies including AUSTRAC and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Additionally, the AFP works closely with the terrorist financing section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on matters relating to JI financing structures in South-East Asia, inclusive of the Bali bombing operation. This cooperation has so far resulted in four members of the FBI travelling to Australia to share intelligence and investigative practices in respect of JI financing activities.
Senator LUDWIG —Can you detail how much has been sought and how many times that has happened over the last couple of financial years?
—I do not have that specific detailed information before me but I would be happy to provide that.
Senator LUDWIG —In endeavouring to procure that information, can you advise whether or not you have detected a trend in the data going up or down as to those requests, or are you able to say that now?
Mr Lawler —No, I am not able to say that now.
Senator LUDWIG —Are you able to say how many hours might be attributable to the AFP handling these requests in each financial year?
Mr Lawler —We certainly would be able to provide that from our data in relation to terrorism and, with some closer examination, also in relation to terrorist financing matters, but that would take some time to do and may involve a detailed analysis of our information systems.
Senator LUDWIG —If it is not going to cause you too great a difficulty, I am happy for you to take it on notice and I am happy for you to look at the trends on the number of requests and how many trends there have been under the regulations. If it is going to take a significant amount of resources, perhaps you could come back to the committee and let me know.
Mr Lawler —As you would be aware, the AFP information systems break up the various crime types into incident codes. There are certainly incident codes in respect of terrorism but, as for specifically in relation to terrorist financing, I will need to make some further inquiries about that. I will provide that information if I possibly can.
CHAIR —We will move to the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Criminology Research Council.