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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23750

Mr McClelland asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 9 October 2003:

(1) Is he aware of concerns expressed by New South Wales Magistrate, Mr Paul Lyon, about the operation of the Commonwealth Witness Protection Program, reported in The Australian on 19 September 2003.

(2) What steps is the Government taking to address these concerns.

Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) Commissioner Keelty of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has established an independent review into the operation of the Witness Protection Act 1994 (WP Act) and the Attorney-General's Department is participating in that review.

The Commissioner initiated an investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has completed his investigation and formed the opinion that there was no improper conduct by any AFP officer in relation to the medical certificate that was the subject of inquiry. However, the Ombudsman concluded that the action taken by the AFP officers was ill advised and makes recommendations that alternative future procedures be developed. The Ombudsman issued a media release on 27 October 2003 stating that the Executive Summary of the special investigation report and covering letter to the Commissioner was publicly available. The Ombudsman's report will be considered as part of the independent review into the operation of the WP Act.