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Thursday, 22 June 2006
Page: 53


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (11:43 AM) —I table three revised explanatory memoranda relating to the bills and move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

LAW ENFORCEMENT INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER BILL 2006

This bill implements the decision, announced by the Government in June 2004, to establish an independent body, with the powers of a Royal Commission, to detect and investigate corruption in the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission, should it arise. To facilitate the detection, prosecution and prevention of corruption in Australian Government law enforcement agencies, the bill will establish the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) headed by a statutory officer, the Integrity Commissioner.

The jurisdiction of the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI will initially cover the AFP and the ACC. Other Australian Government agencies with law enforcement functions may later be brought within the jurisdiction by regulations.

The focus on the AFP and the ACC does not reflect a perception that these bodies currently have a significant problem with corruption. Indeed, there is no evidence of systemic corruption within either body. However, these agencies play a key role in Australian Government law enforcement. Putting in place a regime of rigorous external examination now will ensure that the public can have continuing confidence in their integrity.

The Integrity Commissioner will be a judge or experienced legal practitioner, appointed by the Governor-General for a maximum term of five years. There is provision for an Assistant Integrity Commissioner, if necessary. The staff of ACLEI, including employees, secondees and contractors, will support the Integrity Commissioner in areas such as investigation, intelligence analysis and administration.

The Integrity Commissioner will conduct investigations of corruption issues in response to complaints from the public or another agency, references from the Minister, mandatory notifications or on the Integrity Commissioner’s own motion. The heads of the AFP and the ACC will be required to notify all instances of suspected corrupt conduct to the Integrity Commissioner, who will decide whether to investigate directly or to allow the agency concerned to investigate the matter. The Integrity Commissioner will focus on serious and systemic corruption but will be able to oversee an agency investigation.

Where corruption issues concern secondees from other agencies, such as State police, the bill provides for the Integrity Commissioner to deal with secondees’ home agencies and State integrity agencies to ensure that, if jurisdictions overlap, investigations are not unnecessarily duplicated.

If corruption allegations are made against ACLEI itself, the Minister will have the option to appoint a special investigator, with the same powers as the Integrity Commissioner, to investigate the allegations and report to the Minister.

A Joint Parliamentary Committee will oversee the work of the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI, with particular reference to use of coercive powers.

The Ombudsman will have a continuing role in relation to the AFP and the ACC, except in dealing with corruption issues. This will enable two complementary approaches to investigation to be brought to bear on different types of issues. Together, the Integrity Commissioner and the Ombudsman will provide the Australian public with the guarantee that the conduct of the key Australian Government law enforcement agencies is subject to comprehensive external review.

I commend the bill.


LAW ENFORCEMENT INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 2006

This bill makes amendments to a range of Acts as a consequence of the establishment of the Integrity Commissioner and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity by the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Bill 2006.

The bill provides for ACLEI investigators to have access to the full range of police special investigative powers, including the capacity to use telecommunications interception, surveillance devices, controlled delivery and assumed identities. It also provides the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI with access to a range of otherwise confidential information that is accessible to investigators from other key Australian Government law enforcement agencies. Lastly, the bill modifies the Ombudsman Act 1976 to clarify the relationship between the functions of the Ombudsman and the Integrity Commissioner.

I commend the bill.


LAW ENFORCEMENT (AFP PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND RELATED MEASURES) BILL 2006

This bill repeals the Complaints (Australian Federal Police) Act 1981 and inserts a new part into the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 to modernise the complaints and professional standards regime within the Australian Federal Police. The bill also amends the Ombudsman Act 1976 to align the Ombudsman’s administrative review role over the AFP more closely with the role it has in relation to other Australian Government agencies.

In 2002 the Commissioner of the AFP commissioned the Honourable William Fisher, to review the AFP complaints and professional standards regime. Fisher found that the AFP’s current disciplinary system is inconsistent with modern management practices and the organisational needs of the AFP, and that its focus on punitive outcomes, adversarial structure and formalised processes has caused delay and unnecessary dispute. He recommended that the AFP should adopt a managerial approach to performance issues, backed by the sanctions of dismissal and criminal prosecution in serious cases. This bill implements the bulk of Fisher’s recommendations.

It provides for a new professional standards regime for the AFP which will categorise all matters raised in relation to AFP professional standards according to their nature and seriousness. Minor complaints will be dealt with by local managers, and may be addressed by educational and other non-punitive remedial measures. More serious complaints, including some corruption issues, will be investigated by the AFP’s professional standards unit and may result in criminal charges or a recommendation for termination of employment. Corruption issues will also be notified to the Integrity Commissioner under the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Bill. Within this graduated approach, there will be scope for matters initially classified at a particular level to be transferred to another category as investigation proceeds.

The primary responsibility for the resolution of AFP complaint and professional conduct issues will rest with the AFP. The bill places an obligation on the AFP Commissioner to ensure that appropriate action is taken to deal with all AFP conduct and practices issues.

The bill revises the role of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will retain the capacity to intervene in serious cases and will have a review role in relation to the AFP’s administration of the new Part. The Ombudsman will no longer be required to be directly involved in the investigation of all complaints. This will enable the Ombudsman to focus resources on the more serious matters. The bill provides for review by the Ombudsman of the AFP’s handling of conduct and practices issues, both annually and on an ad-hoc basis.

Overall, these changes will produce a system that is less adversarial, faster, and significantly more efficient. This system will prove more satisfactory not only for the AFP and the Ombudsman but also for people who raise complaints about actions taken by the AFP.

I commend the bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ian Campbell) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for a later hour.