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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6254

Mr McCLELLAND (BartonAttorney-General) (16:02): I specifically will not advance my opinion on the matter of David Hicks. I advise the honourable shadow minister and the Main Committee that the Australian Federal Police have conducted an investigation in respect of this matter. I am on the public record as indicating a brief had been provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions. I think the Director of Public Prosecutions in responding to a question from Senator Brandis, the shadow Attorney-General, in Senate estimates concluded by saying: 'Watch this space.'

In those circumstances, given that these matters may well be considered by a court, it would be potentially prejudicial if I advanced my own personal opinion on those matters. Firstly, I think it is required by law that the matters are investigated by the AFP and the final decision made by the Director of Public Prosecutions. In terms of deferring the amounts from the proceeds of crime of, I think, $8 million, can I indicate that, as a result of steps that have been taken by the government—including, to his credit, the Minister for Home Affairs—and the establishment of the Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, there are already very significant advances in the amount of proceeds of crime recovered. For instance, in the year 2009-10—that is the financial year 2009 and 2010—there were about $18 million of funds that were restrained since the establishment of the task force, which commenced in January of this year. There has already been over $40 million in assets restrained. That task force is not as yet fully up and running. In particular, we will be taking steps to ensure that the task force has its own legal representation, which will significantly give it that additional firepower. We are very optimistic that the proceeds that will be restrained through the task force will be very significant, and that is a very, very significant impediment to crime, because, as you know, crime is undertaken by weighing the risk against the gain. If we attack the gain, we take away a significant incentive for crime to occur.