Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 27 August 2001
Page: 26710


Senator BOLKUS (7:56 PM) —by leave—I move opposition amendments (7), (11) and (12):

(7) Schedule 1, item 12, page 5 (line 4), omit “others”, substitute “certain other persons”.

(11) Schedule 1, item 17, page 6 (after line 31), after subsection (2), insert:

(2A) Subsection (2) does not apply to a person who:

(a) is an informant of a law enforcement officer; or

(b) is believed to have been involved, other than for law enforcement purposes, in the criminal activity in respect of which the controlled operation was authorised.

(12) Schedule 1, item 17, page 8 (after line 8), after subsection 15IA(2), insert:

(2A) Subsection (2) does not apply to a person who:

(a) is an informant of a law enforcement officer; or

(b) is believed to have been involved, other than for law enforcement purposes, in the criminal activity in respect of which the controlled operation was authorised.

These amendments omit criminal informants from the provisions which grant indemnities to civilians involved in controlled operations. There are different categories of civilian involvement in controlled operations. There are the innocent bystanders and whistleblowers—civilians who are innocently involved in a consequential way in criminal activities. Labor supports the proposed sections of the bill which give these civilians indemnities if the police require their cooperation in an operation. And there are criminal civilian operatives—that is, couriers coming through the barrier or informants with significant criminal backgrounds—involved in long-term operations. It is these types of informants which pose potential problems in relation to granting prospective indemnities. One of the complicating factors with these types of informants in controlled operations is that they may be seeking to use a law enforcement agency and the grant of immunity to further their own criminal objectives, such as undermining a rival criminal organisation. In these circumstances, we believe the community would need to be confident that the granting of immunities to these sorts of people was being exercised in the public interest and perhaps with greater safeguards than when it is authorising a sworn police officer.

In that context, recommendation No. 16 of the Street legal report was that part 1AB of the Crimes Act 1914 be amended to include a provision to authorise the participation of civilians in controlled operations. But so as to exclude those persons who are police informants or who become involved in a controlled operation by reason of their having knowledge, position or influence as a consequence of their own involvement in criminal activities, the position of that class of civilian should remain, we believe, subject to the current system of retrospective indemnities and assistance at the time of sentencing that operates according to the discretion of the DPP.

The government has included a provision in the bill to authorise the participation of civilians in controlled operations, but it has not excluded police informants. Without in any way casting any doubt on the integrity of the members of the AFP or the NCA, we believe that we must be careful to ensure that opportunities for manipulation of police officers or, indeed, corruption are as limited as possible. These opposition amendments, therefore, will exclude informants of law enforcement officers and persons who are believed to have been involved other than for a law enforcement purpose in the criminal activity in respect of which the controlled operation was authorised. I commend these amendments to the Senate.