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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5685

Ms SAFFIN (7:03 PM) —I ask the Attorney-General if he could—

Mr Keenan interjecting

Mr Brendan O’Connor —Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order. I understand there is an ultimate convention in this place that, whilst you may have foreshadowed the seven questions you have, other members have a right to ask questions of ministers and the Attorney.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. DS Vale)—Order! The member for Page has the call.

Ms SAFFIN —Thank you. I ask the Attorney-General to please turn his mind to issue of serious and organised crime, but before I get him to do that and come to my question there are some comments that I would like to make in this particular area. I was astounded when I found out that organised crime—and it is a significant security threat—is estimated to cost the community more than $15 billion each year. That is an alarming amount of money that it costs us. I would posit that it is even more than that.

I also note that in November 2009 the government launched the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework. It made sense to have a comprehensive strategic framework to bring a more effective approach to tackling organised crime. As organised crime is just that, it requires an overarching response. The measure forms part of a national response to organised crime that includes the biennial Organised Crime Threat Assessment and Response Plan, and there have been some legislative steps to implement that.

Today the Minister for Home Affairs gave a ministerial statement about the Australian Federal Police. It was interesting to hear, because the Australian Federal Police play a large and significant role in responding to and trying to lessen organised crime and serious crime threats in Australia. The government’s five-point plan, which the minister referred to, included a comprehensive federal audit of police capabilities, now known as the Beale audit, which we have all heard about in this place. The audit, authored by Roger Beale and released in December last year, set out a road map for reform to meet modern policing challenges. We know that over the last 30 years, and in particular over the last 10 years, the Australian Federal Police have become quite a different force to the one they were all those years ago.

One other comment I would like to make about the Australian Federal Police—and this is something of which the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs may not be aware—is that when I worked in Timor-Leste in 2006, when the Australian Federal Police were deployed there along with the Australian defence forces, I got the opportunity, probably a rare opportunity, to work very closely with them on the ground, and they are playing more of that role in the region. The role is not specifically to do with serious and organised crime but rather to do with peacekeeping and law and order functions, helping our regional police forces to reorganise and get on their feet. But it also gives them a broader understanding of our region and how to tackle organised crime, because organised and serious crime is not just in Australia; it goes beyond our borders. The AFP in Timor-Leste were led by Steve Lancaster and I worked very closely with him and all the other police from different states and territories in liaison and in assisting them with functions on the ground.

One of the best books I have read about organised crime is by Bertil Lintner. It is about organised crime in South-East Asia, which involves Australia, and it has some very significant information and, I would say, lessons for us. My question is to the Attorney-General: what are we doing to combat it?