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Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006

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2004-2005-2006









THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA









HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES























LAW ENFORCEMENT INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 2006







SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM







Amendments and New Clauses to be Moved on Behalf of the Government



















(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator

the Honourable Chris Ellison)



LAW ENFORCEMENT INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 2006



 

OUTLINE

 

The Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006 (the Bill) makes consequential amendments related to the establishment of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) pursuant to the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Bill 2006 (the LEIC Bill). The Office of the Integrity Commissioner will be an independent statutory office responsible for the investigation of alleged and suspected corruption within Australian Government law enforcement agencies. The Integrity Commissioner will also be provided with assistance and administrative support from ACLEI.

 

The objective of the LEIC Bill is to enhance the integrity of Australian Government law enforcement by providing for independent and effective external investigation of possible instances of corruption in federal law enforcement agencies. It is therefore necessary that the Integrity Commissioner be equipped with investigatory and inquiry powers that will allow the Integrity Commissioner to gather information and evidence to perform his or her functions. It is also necessary that information be passed between the Integrity Commissioner and other Commonwealth agencies lawfully, particularly where that information relates to a Commonwealth criminal offence.  Coercive and information gathering powers are contained in numerous Commonwealth Acts and are conferred on, and exercised by different Commonwealth agencies and officials.  It is necessary to amend these Commonwealth Acts to provide the Integrity Commissioner with these appropriate powers.

The proposed amendments clarify the operation of the Bill taking into account the report of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee (Senate Committee) in relation to the Bill.

 

The Government amendments will provide authority for the Commonwealth Ombudsman to share information that may be relevant to a corruption issue with the Integrity Commissioner if the information is obtained in the course of an investigation initiated on the Ombudsman’s own motion.  Further, the amendments will preclude the Ombudsman from disclosing particular ACLEI information if the Attorney-General has certified that the disclosure would be contrary to the public interest.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

The Government amendments will have no financial impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



ABBREVIATIONS

 

The following abbreviations are used in this supplementary explanatory memorandum:

 

ACLEI                                                The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity

 

LEIC Bill                                The Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Bill 2006

 

Ombudsman Act                     The Ombudsman Act 1976

 

Senate Committee                   The Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee

 

A reference in this Explanatory Memorandum to a numbered recommendation of the Senate Committee is a reference to a recommendation made in the report of the Senate Committee’s review of the provisions of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Bill 2006, the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006 and the Law Enforcement (AFP Professional Standards and Related Measures) Bill 2006, tabled on 11 May 2006.

 



NOTES ON CLAUSES

Amendment 1:  Schedule 1, after item 46 (Dealing with information and documents)

This amendment will insert a new item 46A in Schedule 1 to the Bill.  Item 46A would insert a new section 35AA in the Ombudsman Act.  Proposed new section 35AA provides that nothing in the Ombudsman Act precludes the Ombudsman from disclosing information, making a statement, or giving documents to the Integrity Commissioner if the Ombudsman obtains the information or documents in the course of an investigation initiated on the Ombudsman’s own motion and they are, or may be, relevant to a corruption issue. 

Proposed new subsections 6(16) to 6(19) of the Ombudsman Act, which will be inserted by item 42 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, will provide authority for the Ombudsman to refer information or documents relating to a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner if, in the Ombudsman’s opinion, the complaint involves an allegation, or information, that raises a corruption issue.  This amendment will ensure that there is corresponding authority for the Ombudsman to pass to the Integrity Commissioner information or documents obtained in the course of conducting an ‘own motion’ investigation. 

This amendment will implement the Senate Committee’s recommendation 7.

Amendment 2:  Schedule 1, after proposed item 46A (Dealing with information)

This amendment will insert a new item 46B in Schedule 1 to the Bill.  Item 46B would insert a cross-reference to the new section 35C of the Ombudsman Act in section 35A of the Ombudsman Act. 

Subsection 35A(1) provides that, subject to section 35B (which relates to ACC information), nothing in the Ombudsman Act precludes the Ombudsman from disclosing information in the public interest.  The proposed new section 35C is introduced by item 47 of Schedule 1 to the Bill.  It provides that the Ombudsman is precluded from disclosing ACLEI information if the Attorney-General certifies to the Ombudsman that disclosure of the information would be contrary to the public interest on any of the grounds specified by the section. 

The purpose of amendment 2 is to clarify that a certificate issued by the Attorney-General under proposed new section 35C would override the Ombudsman’s right to disclose information under section 35A.