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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5686

Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (7:08 PM) —I thank the honourable member for her question and her interest in this matter. Organised crime costs the Australian community in the order of $15 billion a year. It impacts on all Australians. Whether it be crime on the streets from things such as car rebirthing, narcotics on our streets or the distortion of legitimate markets, which impacts upon decent Australian businesses, organised crime has a very significant effect indeed. For that reason, in his national security statement at the end of 2008 the Prime Minister recognised organised crime as a national security priority.

Among the measures we have taken is, firstly, the establishment of the Organised Crime Strategic Framework. That was announced last November by me and the Minister for Home Affairs. It is the first of its kind. It allows us to better identify and prioritise the threat that organised crime possesses so that we can best direct our resources to dealing with it.

The framework comprises three elements: a routine threat assessment that provides a point in time assessment of crime types and prioritises according to the level of activity in Australia and the potential for harm; the response plan that aligns law enforcement resources according to the priorities identified in the threat assessment; and multiagency approaches to ensure that joint operations between law enforcement agencies will continue on identified priority threats. The framework is in addition to some significant legislative measures that the government has taken earlier this year. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious and Organised Crime) Bill No. 1 and bill No.2 introduced amendments to strengthen our existing criminal laws, including criminal asset confiscation laws, new criminal offences targeting those involved in organised crime and enhanced police powers to infiltrate organised crime networks. The government is committed to ensuring that there are no safe havens for organised criminal activities in Australia.

In terms of measures in this budget, as a key pillar of our domestic framework I recently announced, again with the Minister for Home Affairs, that the government would invest $14.5 million to establish the Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre in the Australian Crime Commission. This will be a significant new tool to assist Australia’s law enforcement agencies to combat organised crime. The establishment of the Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre is a key capability identified in the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework. The Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre will enhance the Commonwealth’s ability to link financial intelligence and data with criminal intelligence to identify the highest threat criminal targets. Investigators and analysts from Commonwealth agencies, such as the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink and the Australian Federal Police will be co-located within the Australian Crime Commission to establish this capability. The Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre will provide law enforcement agencies with real-time intelligence, optimising their prospects for disruption, laying criminal charges and capturing the proceeds of crime and unexplained wealth. Funding of $24 million over four years will also be provided to AUSTRAC within the Minister for Home Affairs responsibility for new analytical technologies to improve its targeting of serious and organised crime. Following the money trail has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of investigating organised criminal activity.

Commencing 2011-12, AUSTRAC will recover for its regulatory activities in accordance with the government’s cost-recovery guidelines, a cost recovery for the regulatory activities, which of course is in the interests of those businesses and industries that are regulated, because the viability of those systems is clearly in their interests.

In terms of international cooperation, the attorneys-general of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand and I have met in person twice in the last 12 months, and we have agreed to progress strategies for working together to combat organised crime in recognition of the increasingly borderless nature of organised crime. In fact, in the last month we signed a declaration to combat organised crime, and that provides important framework for our countries to work together to combat organised criminal activity extending beyond our borders.