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Tuesday, 19 November 2002
Page: 6754

Senator LUDWIG (4:49 PM) —The opposition supports amendments (1) and (R3) that have been moved by Senator Greig in relation to the Australian Crime Commission Establishment Bill 2002. Senator Greig has outlined what our position is also, so we adopt the submission of Senator Greig in relation to amendments (1) and (R3). The opposition is of the view that the first part of proposed section 59(1)—which provides that the chair of the board must keep the minister informed of the general conduct of the ACC in the performance of the ACC's functions—is a necessary corollary of the powers and ensures ministerial responsibility. Having a caveat on it, or a subsection (2) proviso, could be difficult to construe in the longer term anyway. Proposed section 59(2) says:

If the Chair of the Board considers that disclosure of information to the public could prejudice the safety or reputation of persons or the operations of law enforcement agencies, the Chair must not provide the information under subsection (1) or (1A).

Consequential amendment (R3) amends that section. It would ensure that the minister is kept within the loop. In proposed section 59(1), the general conduct of the ACC becomes a matter that the minister can request information about. The minister should not be denied access to information that he or she should rightly have at his or her disposal to ensure the proper conduct of the ACC in all its work that it undertakes in fighting crime. The Labor opposition supports these amendments; they find favour with us.