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Thursday, 28 October 2010
Page: 1033

Senator PARRY (12:36 PM) —I also rise to speak on the Law and Justice Legislation Amendment (Identity Crimes and Other Measures) Bill 2010. I do not propose to speak for very long and I commend the senators who have spoken before me, particularly Senator Hutchins, Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission. Through that committee and through other involvement in this parliament, I have come to realise, as many others have, that identity crime has become a big issue in Australia and elsewhere. It needs additional resourcing and tools, and this legislation will go towards equipping jurisdictions in combating identity fraud. Identity crimes are very malicious types of crimes. They affect people on a very personal basis. To have one’s identity stolen is not a light matter, and that has been touched upon during this debate.

It is great that a government of this nature as well as the previous Howard government have always viewed ways to combat criminal activity as a priority for the government of the day, and it is good to see that the Labor Party is continuing the good measure that was introduced under the Howard government. It is nice for us to be in great agreement in relation to very sensible measures, such as the bill before us.

I want to mention two items in particular: firstly—and this has been touched upon—the varying nature of criminal activity and, secondly, the ability of organised crime to move very swiftly with new technologies. This bill has been very carefully crafted in the sense that it will not date very quickly on the definition of equipment. That is a very sensible measure. I trust that the courts will view that measure with the intention that the parliament is placing on that particular provision. If we do not have legislation that is swift and flexible enough to combat these organisations, it makes life very difficult for law enforcement agencies.

Secondly, the introducing minister at the time, Minister Debus, made some comments in his second reading speech in relation to aspects of newly evolving methods of criminal organisations. He thoroughly agreed with the member for Farrer during the second reading debate in the House of Representatives. He indicated that we need to keep up to date, and that is why the government has approached the bill in the way it has. Another comment in that second reading speech was that people need to be able to get their lives back together upon the discovery of an identity crime. The legislative framework in this country has not provided for that to happen in a reasonable manner and to give justification to a person’s identity being restored—in particular on a financial aspect.

If the government continues to legislate and the parliament continues to approve legislation that will combat serious and organised crime—other measures went through the parliament during the last term—it will go a long way to ensuring that organised criminals in this country and elsewhere understand that Australia is not a soft target and that Australia will often amend and adjust its legislative framework to attack the criminals at the very heart of their venture. Identity crime is one of those issues. The bill also addresses many other aspects which I certainly agree with and approve of, but I will not go into the detail of those. I commend the manner in which the bill was introduced and commend the bill to the Senate.