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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 5382

Senator POLLEY (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:46): I, too, rise to make a few short comments in relation to these reports. As we have already heard, this is the first year that the Australian Federal Police annual report has been considered by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement. This is a significant milestone in the oversight of the Australian Federal Police.

The range and sophistication of AFP activities has changed significantly in recent years. The Australian National Audit Office estimated AFP expenditure in 2010-11 will approach $1.4 billion. In real terms this is more than 3½ times the expenditure in 1998-99. The acceptance of the bill review has allowed the AFP to restructure into three core operational areas: security and protection, international deployment and serious crime. Looking at just one of the key areas of development in the AFP helps to provide some insight into the complexity of the operations of the AFP and the intricacies of the methods of reporting. Given the traditional way many people consider police operations I am sure that, like me, many senators are surprised by the technical requirements that are now necessary for a successful operation of a contemporary force, like the AFP.

In February 2011 the AFP opened its Australian Illicit Drug Data Centre. While this incorporated some of the existing services of the AFP it also included two new functions. One is the development of a scientific basis for monitoring the geographical regions, the production methods and the precursors used to supply the Australian illicit drug market. The other is the development of a formal risk assessĀ­ment methodology for precursor chemicals that have been indentified by the National Precursor Working Group. This leads on to recognising one of the key performance indicators used by the AFP in its annual reporting format. This is the Drug Harm Index. Unfortunately, this is one of the few KPIs the AFP did not meet: $473 million compared with a target of $886 million. But that does not detract from the value of this type of key performance indicator. One of the risks with key performance indicators is that they reflect outputs rather than outcomes. While outputs may be useful for gauging activity and industry levels, they generally do not reflect what has been the benefit of a particular activity.

The Drug Harm Index is a complex measurement that has been developed in conjunction with the University of Queensland. The index aims to assess the social harm around narcotics and the broader return to the community resulting from the investment in law enforcement. The Drug Harm Index incorporates a formula that involves multiplying the seizure weight of a particular drug by an estimate of its social cost. Opiates are $1.09 million, cocaine is $460,000, sedatives are $336,000 stimulants are $263,000, precursors are $209,000 and cannabis is $8,000.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement has also considered the annual report of the Australian Crime Commission. The ACCC appears to meet each of its KPIs, but this assessment was not completely supported by some of the partner organisations. This is an issue that the Australian Crime Commission committee will continue to work on. The committee also took the opportunity to explore the Commonwealth Ombudsman's concerns regarding the extension of controlled operations that extend beyond three months in a way that bypasses the Administrative Appeals Tribunal's oversight mechanism. The committee recognises that effectiveness on control operations does require some flexibility in the face of the changing circumstances brought about by the complexity and global reach of criminal activities.

I join with the previous speaker in commending the reports to the Senate. I would also like to pay tribute to the former chair of this committee, former Senator Steve Hutchins. I would like to congratulate the new chair, Chris Hayes, from the other place. I would also like to put on record my thanks to all committee members and the secretariat for the way that we worked together to produce what I think are some very good reports from this committee. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted.