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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 9037

Mr WAKELIN (11:03 AM) —I rise to speak briefly on the Australian Crime Commission Establishment Bill 2002. It has had a long gestation in terms of the history of the former bodies—the National Crime Authority, the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and the Office of Strategic Crime Assessment—and the distinguished service they have offered the country in dealing with these difficult issues. I simply offer my support for the Commonwealth, the states and the territories in their efforts in this area. Clearly, it is a cooperative and very much equal partnership because the states and territories end up doing the practical implementation on the ground. When the Prime Minister, the Premiers and the Chief Ministers met on 5 April to discuss the transnational crime and terrorism, their communique mentioned, amongst many other things:

In relation to Organised Crime, Leaders agreed:

7. To strengthen the fight against organised crime it is agreed to replace the National Crime Authority (NCA) with an Australian Crime Commission (ACC) that builds on the important features of the NCA for effective national law enforcement operation ...

8. The ACC to be focussed on criminal intelligence collection and establishment of national intelligence priorities.

9. The ACC to have access to taskforce investigative capability to give effect to its intelligence functions and to support its overall operations ...

10. The Board of the ACC to include representatives from all States and Territories. Ministerial oversight will be retained by having the Board report to an Intergovernmental Committee of State and Commonwealth Ministers.

11. To streamline the process for obtaining investigation references.

12. The ACC will retain the capacity to use coercive powers and to investigate criminal activity of national significance ...

Therein lies, from the Bills Digest, the general summary of the final decisions and the basis at a political level, a national level and a state and territory level for forming the Australian Crime Commission.

From a South Australian perspective, the Police Association—one important group at the ground level—are quite supportive and pleased, as I understand it, with the final result and the model which has been proposed. I do not expect, as the previous speaker said, that there will not always be sunshine and light when the Commonwealth, the states and the territories are talking about money issues, but there is no doubt that the Commonwealth will be there in a very appropriate way with budgetary support. I offer my appreciation to SAPOL, the South Australian police department, for the work they have been doing over a long period and for the contribution they will make to this national effort. It is important that the working relationship at an operational level be sound, purposeful, able to deliver and of world's best practice standard to meet any issues we may have to meet in the future.

In conclusion, the focus on good intelligence does not have to be spoken of at any length, other than to say that there will never be a time when it is more important for our nation to be satisfied at a political level, in a bipartisan spirit, that we have the very best intelligence and the best people available to make key assessments about our future direction. I wish the Australian Crime Commission well. We have a significant history in this regard, which should give us the basis of a reasonable outcome. Let us hope that those lessons of the past are well learnt and that the commission, in combination with our states and territories, who are working in partnership with the federal government, delivers to the Australian people that which it must.