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Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Page: 6054

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (11:36): I think we are mixing two issues. I will say it again for the record. Under this legislation it is only accessible for lawful purposes of enforcing criminal law, protecting public revenue and enforcing pecuniary penalties. But this is about a criminal investigation under this legislation. The broader issue of appropriateness that you talk about in terms of the agencies themselves is something the PJCIS is looking into. It is looking into whether it is appropriate for those agencies—and I have no doubt that you will be making submissions, if not through you then on behalf of the people that you represent.

Of course, the difficulty, I think, with the amendment that you have proposed really comes down to this: if we were to adopt the three years then, if you look at the state and territory offences punishable by fewer than three years imprisonment, you find certain drug possession and importation offences under division 308.1 of the Criminal Code; you find a number of offences relating to dealing with the proceeds of crime at 400.7; you find threatening to harm Commonwealth public officials at 147.2; you find making false statements in warrant applications; you find certain breaches of the Spam Act; and you find victimisation of disabled people in breach of human rights legislation under the Disability Discrimination Act. I would have thought you would not want to exclude some of those by dint of, I think, many of the constituents that you represent. So the problem with the type of amendment you have proposed is that it provides a line that then means that it will exclude some offences that, in fact, should be looked at, whereas this threshold that we use means that big law enforcement agencies have the opportunity to investigate criminal law. Of course, on the broader issue—to reiterate—about whether or not that is appropriate for what you describe as the quarter of a million requests, it is far better for the PJCIS to have a look at that.