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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6478

Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (7:04 PM) —In responding to the member for La Trobe, I am aware of the time. Concerning the air marshal program, he would appreciate that most certainly there are air marshals and most certainly the air marshals are flying. He is aware that it is no secret that they are not on each and every flight. For obvious reasons, we do not say how many, or which, flights they are on. I can assure him and the travelling public, and I re-emphasise to any would-be person of ill repute, that there are air marshals flying on planes.

This year we are spending $96.5 million on the Australian Crime Commission. It is essentially an intelligence and investigating body; it is not a police force. We have the Australian Federal Police and we have state and territory police forces. It does not undertake law enforcement activities, nor do we want it to do that. The prospects for running interference, review and so forth, speak for themselves. I am informed that the staff numbers—and they do fluctuate depending on issues and the numbers as seconded—are 584, and 560 are paid by the Australian Crime Commission. The honourable member’s statement of 20 currently being paid by other agencies—in other words, seconded—is the right figure. In addition, there are 28 who would be described as ‘independent contractors of particular expertise’, whether it is technology or other areas.

The capacity of the Australian Crime Commission to undertake its primary role of investigating and intelligence would be impeded by expecting it to undertake policing work. It has very strong coercive powers to require attendance and the production of documents and to investigate people through the use of those powers. It has an annual budget of $96.5 million and a staff of 584, made up as I have described. It is a very substantial and significant organisation, and it does have flexibility in how it allocates staff. I would take the opportunity to also commend Mr Lawler, who has recently been appointed as the head of the agency. I think we are going to see even better outcomes. That is not to demean the previous leadership in any way, shape or form; the organisation was clearly well lead. I think Mr Lawler is an outstanding choice to lead the organisation and I think we will see some outstanding results from the organisation.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $2,196, 293,000