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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6475

Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (6:50 PM) —I thank the honourable member for her question. In terms of the first issue relating to AUSTRAC, my understanding from the budget papers is that the spending this year will be $65.6 million, up from $57.9 million or thereabouts on the previous year. There have been some efficiencies which will result in a reduction of 12 officers, I am led to believe. That will be as a result of focusing on areas of greatest priority, which includes money laundering and terrorism financing. There has been a lot of work from the period of the previous government in terms of the counterterrorism financial reporting obligations. There has been a downturn, essentially as a result of those programs being implemented. Work needs to be done in enforcing it, but those efficiencies are being achieved there.

Developing the capacity of African countries to detect and address money laundering and funding of criminal activity—indeed, funding, potentially, of terrorist organisations—is an important issue. If you have a look at it in the context of the budget of AUSTRAC, the resources being put into African countries are relatively small but nonetheless important. I am not going into details as to why they are important but I can most certainly confirm that enhancing that capability in Africa is unquestionably important in the area of security to Australia.

The Australian Federal Police will be funded to the tune of $1.361 million, I think, for operational reasons. There has in fact been a staff growth of four per cent. There are 3,000 sworn officers. The government is committed to implementing its program of 500 additional officers. I think it was said in Senate estimates that we have currently 30 more officers than there would have been had the previous scheduling progressed. As I have indicated, there is currently an audit of the budgetary considerations as they apply to the Australian Federal Police, and obviously we are receiving the input of the Federal Police in that context.

There have been several areas of savings referred to previously by the honourable member. As I think has been referred to by the opposition in press releases and otherwise, there is $1.4 million in the area of counterterrorism. I am advised that that $1.4 million relates to corporate expenses and staff leave. The $3.2 million going to intelligence programs relates to similar issues. I am advised that the $8.1 million in the economic and special operations area relates to: $4.3 million in the area substantially relating to copyright; $2.4 million as a result of a downscaling of the oil for food program investigations; and $1.5 million in staff liability. At the same time, the government is spending in a number of areas—for instance, airport security. We are looking at: an additional $9 million for unified policing; an additional $9.1 million for joint investigation teams—the air security officers that I referred to and aviation liaison officers; $18.3 million for the regional rapid deployment teams; and $5.1 million for the airport police commanders program. In addition, there are a number of other areas of significant enhancement. There is, for instance, $31 million to deploy 12 Australian Federal Police officers to Afghanistan, to go to the front line of their narcotics program and address the narcotics risk, because narcotics, if not addressed, very quickly come to Western countries, including Australia.