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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 556

Mr BIDGOOD (12:19 PM) —I rise to speak in favour of the Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2008. This bill amends the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to facilitate access by Queensland law enforcement agencies to telecommunications interception powers. This will give Queensland law enforcement agencies access to the same investigative tools as all other police forces around the country. That access will come only when Queensland’s arrangements comply with the accountability requirements in section 35 of the federal Telecommunication (Interception and Access) Amendments Act.

In upholding the law in Queensland and in helping to bring about a safer community, the Queensland police service has my full support. I acknowledge the commitment and professionalism of all our men and women in uniform. Contrary to what the previous member said about underinvestment in police services, I can say that in my seat of Dawson, the Queensland state government has in Mackay, Whitsunday and Burdekin actually increased police services, and there has been excellent Queensland state government representation by the Mackay state member, who also happens to be the primary industry minister, Tim Mulherin. Tim Mulherin has been a very strong advocate for the police service and for the role of our men and women police officers. He has been at the forefront of lobbying for and obtaining a brand new police station in early 2000. He has also lobbied successfully for an increase in police numbers within the Mackay region.

I am also pleased to say, in response to the statements of the previous speaker, the member for La Trobe, that a brand new police station has been built in the northern beaches area of Mackay. This area is covered by the state member for Whitsunday, Jane Jarrat. Again, she is another advocate for the Police Service. She is passionate about protecting our community, the role and lives of individuals, their properties and their businesses. A couple of years ago, she was also successful in the establishment and building of a brand new police station in the northern beaches area of Mackay. So the Queensland government, and in particular those two local members, have served people in the seat of Dawson very well indeed. They have done an excellent job, and it is a great privilege and honour for me to put them on the Hansard record as having done that. They deserve credit and praise when it comes to supporting our men and women in the Police Service, who do a fantastic job.

The Queensland Police Service is the primary law enforcement agency of the state of Queensland. It fulfils this role throughout my home state of Queensland 24 hours a day, upholding the law and providing assistance to the community when necessary, in times of emergency, disaster and crisis. On this note, I would like to refer to the events of the floodings a year ago in the Mackay region. I saw firsthand the exemplary service of the Police Service. It did a fantastic job, in coordination with our emergency services. It played a fantastic role in facilitating and mobilising as many people as possible, particularly with the effect of the floodings on 8,000 homes. I can report that only in the last couple of months have the last of the people from the 400 homes which were completely flooded out finally returned home.

I would also like to put on the record that the recent rains that have come have caused a lot of psychological trauma. When we do our assessment of flood damage in these regions we often think in terms of dollar value of not only property, lost business and lost production but also possessions that need to be replaced. We do not always count the cost of psychological trauma. Recently, people in my region have become very nervous and upset that more floods might return to the region—and they have done in the regions of Ayr, the Burdekin River, particularly in Giru, and close to Home Hill. I want to send a message to the Police Service in those areas, particularly in Ayr and Townsville: ‘You do a magnificent job. We are proud of our men and women in police uniform and we will always stand by you. You have my full support.’ In the time of disaster and crisis, the Police Service is a true champion of the people.

The functions of the Police Service also include: first, the preservation of peace and good order in all areas of Queensland; second, the protection of all communities in Queensland; third, the prevention of crime; fourth, the detection of offenders and the bringing of offenders to justice; and, fifth, upholding the law generally and providing policing services in an emergency.

The mission of the Queensland Police Force is to serve the people of Queensland, by protecting their lives, their property and by preserving peace and safety, preventing crime and upholding the law in a manner which has regard for the public good and the rights of the individual. Its vision is that of a professional police service, dedicated to excellence and committed to working in partnership with the people of Queensland to enhance the safety and security of our community.

This bill is about putting Queensland in line with other states with regard to its powers to investigate crime by introducing the Queensland Public Interest Monitor. The bill recognises the unique oversight role that the Queensland Public Interest Monitor has in relation to law enforcement matters in Queensland by introducing the Queensland Public Interest Monitor into the interception regime.

The bill will enable the Queensland Public Interest Monitor to make submissions to the judge considering the interception warrant application and to ask questions of the officer applying for the warrant. Importantly, the bill will only permit the Public Interest Monitor to play a role when a Queensland state interception agency seeks a telecommunications interception warrant. Recognition of the Public Interest Monitor in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act will pave the way for Queensland to introduce state legislation that will then enable the minister to consider declaring the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission as interception agencies for the purposes of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act.

The bill also implements a number of minor technical amendments. Under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, an agency cannot be declared an interception agency unless the minister is satisfied that the law of the requesting state makes satisfactory provision for the declared agency to comply with specified oversight arrangements. These include record keeping, reporting and inspection obligations and the entering into an agreement by the state to pay all expenses connected with the issue of warrants to the agency. I commend the bill to the House.