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Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Page: 11154

Mr WOOD (8:27 PM) —I also rise to speak on the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious and Organised Crime) Bill 2009. This bill aims to strengthen legislative controls to target organised criminal activity through the introduction of unexplained wealth provisions; enhancing police powers in relation to controlled operations, identity theft and witness protection; and increased access to telecommunications interception for criminal organisation offences. I believe the government is trying to do the right thing here and I congratulate the Attorney-General and his department.

In particular, I want to focus on the unexplained wealth provisions. Early this year I travelled with other members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission on a delegation overseas and we got to see first-hand, when we met with the Italian authorities, how they brought down serious and organised crime simply by following the money trail. If you can imagine it, it is like a pyramid, and the higher you get up the pyramid the less you actually have your hands on the drugs or stolen goods et cetera.

One thing I am very concerned about is raising the threshold from ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’ to ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ before the DPP can actually bring the matter before a court. It is hard enough for police to get prosecutions against the most powerful organised crime figures in this country, and that is why I believe that the bar should not be lifted any higher for law enforcement agencies. As a former policeman and member of the organised crime squad obviously I have very strong feelings about this. I would hate to see people in this country go free who, as we heard previous speakers say, reap their profits from the deaths of young people who get involved with illegal drugs.

The way to target serious and organised crime is simply to go after the money. That was the message we heard loud and clear on our trip. Again, as a former police officer I know the police associations across Australia really support this legislation. Similar laws in the Northern Territory and Western Australia have been very effective in dealing with serious and organised crime.

Debate interrupted.