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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7725

Senator McGAURAN (2:14 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Justice and Customs. Will the minister inform the Senate about two significant announcements today to further enhance cooperation between the Australian Federal Police and its international, state and territory counterparts in the fight against terrorism and other transnational crimes?

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) —Today I was very pleased to launch the country's first transnational crime coordination centre. This centre is housed at the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Canberra and for the first time provides a 24-hour state-of-the-art facility which will see national law enforcement dealing with domestic forces, state and territory police forces and international law enforcement at the same time. The coordination centre will be dealing with terrorism, illicit drug smuggling, people-smuggling, high-tech crime, money laundering and the proceeds of crime.

If we are to stay ahead of criminals we need modern technology and professional people working together in the fight against crime. That is just what this transnational crime coordination centre will do. As I said, as well as dealing domestically with our state and territory police forces, it will have capacity for a national incident centre. If we have a national investigation such as the Bali investigation, it can operate out of the centre and do so with overseas contact as well. When we opened the centre today we were online to investigators in Bali. The team that has been doing such a great job in the Bali investigation will be working from the centre. It is also worth while to note that we had present at the opening today law enforcement representatives from Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. This signifies the standing that the Australian Federal Police has internationally with law enforcement overseas.

As well, today I have announced that joint counterterrorism teams will be formed between Commonwealth, state and territory police in a formidable alliance in the fight against terrorism. This cooperation shown by the state and territory police services is a result of work to bring together nationally those police services in the fight against terrorism. Some of those services have signed memoranda of understanding in relation to the set-up of these forces and we hope to have all of them in place early in the new year. Each state and territory will have its own counterterrorist team and nationally there will be 41 permanent professional staff involved in this initiative. This is a very important step forward in bringing together the nation's law enforcement people in the fight against terrorism.

Today, at that that national-transnational crime coordination centre, the Australian Federal Police put on show the expertise that it has in a variety of areas relating to criminal activity. We have seen great work done by the Australian Federal Police in the detection of illicit drugs which people have attempted to bring into this country. We have seen great work done by the Australian Federal Police in relation to the Bali investigation and counterterrorism measures. We are seeing great work being done by the Australian Federal Police in relation to high-tech crime. On 1 January our proceeds of crime regime will be in place and we will be able to pursue that as well as money laundering aspects, which are so important in relation to terrorists and organised criminals. This is a great step forward and yet another indication that we are keeping abreast of international criminals in the fight against crime.