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Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Page: 11178


Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence Materiel) (10:22): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The vast majority of Commonwealth law enforcement officers are good, honest, hardworking people.

But it is an unfortunate fact that criminals target law enforcement officers.

Organised crime groups actively target our law enforcement officers because of the nature of the work that they do—and because of their access to sensitive information.

It happens all around the world.

There is no place for corruption in the public sector, and that is why I have brought this legislation forward. That is why I have made it one of my top priorities.

Where we find corruption, we have to weed it out.

This bill is an important step in this process.

It will give our law enforcement agencies more power to prevent corruption, and increase the tools and the powers they have to weed it out where they find it.

The bill contains three key measures:

1. It introduces targeted integrity testing for the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Officers suspected of corrupt conduct;

2. It doubles the number of law enforcement agencies covered by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity; and

3. It strengthens the powers of the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to deal with suspected corruption.

I will outline each of these measures.

Integrity t esting

An integrity test is an operation designed to test whether an official will respond to a simulated or controlled situation in a manner that is inconsistent with an agency's standards of integrity.

Examples of integrity testing include leaving valuable goods at a simulated crime scene to test whether an officer steals the item, or putting false information in a database to catch a person suspected of unlawfully disclosing information.

Officers in state police forces are subject to integrity testing.

This includes New South Wales, where testing was introduced following the Wood royal commission, and Queensland, where testing is conducted by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity recommended the introduction of targeted integrity testing at a Commonwealth level last year.

The power of integrity testing is that it puts fear in the mind of the corrupt. It is a psychological war against corruption.

They will need to think twice before accepting a bribe from a criminal, because that criminal could be an undercover police officer.

The committee made a number of recommendations regarding the form that Commonwealth integrity testing should take—and safeguards that should be included. I thank them for their work.

The government accepted these recommendations, and this bill gives effect to this.

Only senior officers of the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and Customs will be able to authorise integrity tests.

The integrity commissioner will also be able to authorise integrity testing to support a corruption investigation.

An integrity test will only be able to be authorised where the senior officer has a reasonable suspicion that an offence, punishable by at least 12 months imprisonment, has been or is likely to be committed.

Integrity testing is not 'entrapment' or 'inducement'.

The inherent principle of integrity testing is that there be clear and equal opportunity for a person who is subject to the test to pass the test or fail the test.

Entrapment is where a person is induced to commit an offence that they would not otherwise have committed.

Tests will be carefully designed and carried out in a way which upholds this distinction.

It is important that, in conducting integrity tests, law enforcement agencies have available to them the full suite of covert powers that they otherwise have at their disposal for investigating serious and organised crime.

This was also recommended by the parliamentary joint committee as part of its inquiry.

For this reason the bill contains amendments to the controlled operations provisions in the Crimes Act and to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act and Surveillance Devices Act to ensure these powers are available in an integrity testing context.

The use of these powers will remain subject to existing safeguards.

Expansion of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity ' s jurisdiction

Second, doubling the number of law enforcement agencies covered by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity was established in 2007 to detect, disrupt and deter potential corruption in federal law enforcement agencies.

It currently oversights the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and Customs, and deals with corruption issues from the former National Crime Authority.

This bill extends the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity to cover the Australian Transactions Reporting and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the CrimTrac Agency, and prescribed staff members in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

These law enforcement agencies should be subject to the additional oversight that the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity provides.

The work performed by these agencies also makes them a target of organised crime.

ACLEI's new jurisdiction will commence on 1 July 2013 to enable appropriate compliance and administrative arrangements to be put in place prior to this occurring.

The government will also provide the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity with additional resourcing to meet the costs of this expanded jurisdiction.

In February this year, I as Minister for Justice also commissioned a review of the first year of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity's oversight of Customs.

The government received the report from this review in April.

It recommended:

1.   That ACLEI explore the scope for seconding suitably senior and experienced staff from law enforcement agencies to assure ACLEI maintains up-to-date major investigation experience and expertise

2.   That the integrity commissioner continue to build an understanding among ACLEI staff of ACLEI's role and the need to work jointly with other agencies

3.   That ACLEI establish a regular forum for relevant Customs and ACLEI staff to meet to discuss integrity issues

4.   That funding go towards completing ACLEI's information management project within the next 12 months

5.   That ACLEI work with Customs on communications and training strategies around increasing awareness of ACLEI's role and improving lessons learned from current integrity investigations

6.   Measures to refine ACLEI’s processes for managing and investigating integrity matters referred by law enforcement agencies.

The government has agreed to all of the recommendations made in the report.

As a result of this review, the government has also doubled the annual funding provided to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity for its work in oversighting Customs, to allow it to undertake further significant activities in prevention and case work.

Strengthening of the powers of the Chief Executive Officer of Customs

The third element of this bill deals with strengthening of the powers of the chief executive officer of Customs.

In February this year I also wrote to the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, the CEO of the Australian Crime Commission and the CEO of Customs and Border Protection outlining my expectations in detecting, disrupting and preventing corruption.

I also asked for their advice about further action needed to strengthen the corruption resistance of Commonwealth enforcement agencies.

The agencies have responded with the following anticorruption measures.

First, the Australian Federal Police. The Australian Federal Police are:

working with ACLEI to develop a strategic intelligence assessment of corruption risks within ACT Policing;

working closely with ACLEI and the Commonwealth Ombudsman to continue to develop a better understanding of roles and responsibilities regarding prevention, detection and response to integrity issues;

working with the Commonwealth Ombudsman to improve the timeliness of investigations into integrity issues; and

continuing to develop their capability including recruitment screening, targeted drug testing and alcohol screening, and early intervention.

The Australian Crime Commission are:

expanding random drug and alcohol testing to all staff;

reviewing fraud and corruption risk assessments and plans; and

developing additional training tools to assist staff in applying their integrity and anti-corruption responsibilities.

Customs and Border Protection has conducted a review of their integrity framework.

This work was completed in June this year.

It recommended a range of reforms to strengthen Customs’ anticorruption culture, prevent corruption and weed it out.

This includes:

establishing a support and referral network similar to the Australian Federal Police’s ‘confidant’ model. This will provide a facility for staff to readily access support, advice, and the ability to come forward with information about corruption and criminal behaviour;

enhanced tools to ensure Customs select appropriate staff, and mechanisms to prevent corrupt behaviours emerging right through the employment cycle;

increased education and guidance for staff, including the development of a ‘Customs and Border Protection Officers Handbook’ as the core reference document for all staff.

This bill contains additional measures focused on improving the integrity culture within Customs.

Criminals and organised crime groups are always changing.

As they change, our law enforcement agencies need to change as well.

Customs and Border Protection are an important part of this.

Their work is just as important as the work done by the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

And they are just as likely to be targeted by organised criminals.

That is why it is essential that they have the same powers and tools to tackle corruption and weed it out.

This bill contains a series of measures to bring Customs and Border Protection's powers to act against corruption and misconduct into line with those of the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Federal Police.

This includes:

the power to authorise drug and alcohol testing;

the power for the Customs CEO to make an order declaring that the termination of an employee was for serious misconduct; and

the power to issue orders including mandatory reporting requirements, whereby staff members will be required to report any suspected misconduct.

The Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission both currently undertake drug and alcohol testing.

Officers of Customs and Border Protection operate and respond in similar surroundings to officers of these agencies.

It is essential that they also be subject to the same standards of integrity.

Drug and alcohol testing will first focus on high-risk areas of Customs, including where officers perform similar functions to and work in close proximity to other law enforcement officers who are subject to drug and alcohol testing.

Officers that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol not only pose a safety risk to co-workers—they are also potentially a target for organised crime groups that are seeking to infiltrate law enforcement.

An officer using illicit drugs may be willing to undertake 'favours' for crime groups in return for the supply of illicit drugs.

Identification of this behaviour is an important part of improving corruption resistance and tackling organised crime.

This bill will also provide a new power for the CEO of Customs to make a declaration, following the termination of a staff member's employment, that the termination was for serious misconduct.

The effect of this declaration will enable the terminated employee to be immediately removed from the workplace.

Judicial review will remain available to terminated officials under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act, whereby the Federal Court can consider the lawfulness of the CEO’s decision.

This power replicates powers currently available to the heads of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

It is not a power that will be exercised lightly, and will be reserved for serious cases of misconduct.

The decision made by the chief executive officer will follow an assessment and advice from a panel independent of the chief executive officer.

The bill will also provide an ability for the chief executive officer of Customs to issue written orders to staff requiring them to report any suspected instances of misconduct.

It is important that law enforcement agencies develop a strong culture of resisting corruption.

Corruption can thrive in an environment where it is the norm to turn a blind eye to misconduct.

This measure will ensure that where an employee of Customs observes an incident which may involve misconduct, he or she is in no doubt as to what the appropriate action should be.

Conclusion

This is a major package of reforms to target corruption and give our law enforcement agencies the power to prevent it from happening and, when it does happen, to weed it out.

As I said earlier, there is no place for corruption in the public sector.

I choose these words carefully. There is a darker side of the human condition that is vulnerable to corruption. Our job is to make the public sector as corruption-resistant as it can be.

That’s why I have made this a top priority.

This is the first tranche of reforms I will bring forward.

There is more work to do.

I am working on those reforms now and I will bring those reforms forward when they are finalised.

I commend this important bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.