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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 10176


Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism) (09:39): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Investigation and Prosecution Measures Bill 2017 makes two sets of amendments:

First, it amends the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and the Surveillance Devices Act 2004, to ensure that the legislation supports a restructure of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Secondly, it extends the functions, powers and duties of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to the laws of Norfolk Island.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption plays an important role investigating, exposing and preventing corruption in the public sector.

In November 2016, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2016. That act restructured the commission by replacing the former arrangement of a single commissioner and assistant commissioner with a full-time chief commissioner and two part-time commissioners. Assistant commissioners may also be appointed as required.

The measures in the bill will make minor amendments to both the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and the Surveillance Devices Act 2004, to ensure that the restructured commission is referenced properly in those acts.

The act will retain the commission's substantive powers under those acts.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 provides the legal framework for specified intelligence and law enforcement agencies to access communications and data for the investigation of criminal offences and other activities that threaten safety and security.

It permits eligible law enforcement and security agencies, including the commission, to obtain warrants to intercept communications, to obtain warrants to access stored communications and to access telecommunications data, subject to stringent legal tests and independent oversight.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 vests certain positions within the commission specific authority when undertaking functions. The chief commissioner will, for example, be able to authorise members of the commission to receive information gathered under warrants and communicate intercepted information obtained by the commission to other agencies in limited circumstances. The amendments will allow the chief commissioner, a commissioner or an assistant commissioner to be certifying officers under the act. Certifying officers can, for example, be delegated the power to revoke interception and stored communication warrants, certify true copies of warrants and issue evidentiary certificates.

The Surveillance Devices Act 2004 governs the use of optical surveillance devices, listening devices, data surveillance devices and tracking devices by law enforcement agencies. The act complements the relevant surveillance device laws of the states and territories by allowing law enforcement agencies such as the commission to obtain surveillance device warrants to help investigate federal offences and state offences with a federal aspect.

The Surveillance Devices Act 2004 vests certain positions within the commission specific authority when undertaking functions under the act. These provisions ensure that the authorisations are valid and that the persons authorised under the act to undertake those functions can exercise their prescribed functions legally.

The chief commissioner will, for example, have the power to revoke surveillance device warrants and authorise executive level officers to be authorising officers. Commissioners and assistant commissioners will also be designated as authorising officers under the bill. Authorising officers may issue emergency authorisations for the use of a surveillance device, authorise the use and retrieval of tracking devices without warrant in certain circumstances and issue evidentiary certificates.

This bill will ensure that the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption is able to continue its important work and can access the investigative tools it needs to support its functions.

On 1 July 2015, the Australian government took over responsibility for delivering local, state and Commonwealth services on Norfolk Island, which are proportionally equivalent to the services which benefit mainland Australians.

As part of this process, it was important to review prosecution arrangements in order to align those services with those available on mainland Australia and other external territories.

The measures in the bill will allow the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to take over prosecutorial and related functions in relation to the laws of Norfolk Island. This will ensure prosecutions against the laws of Norfolk Island are dealt with by a professional and independent prosecution service with significant expertise.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.