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Monday, 4 September 2006
Page: 146

Senator Ludwig asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 10 May 2006:

With reference to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) 2004-05 annual report which mentions on page 49 that the use of the coercive powers has increased by 77.2 per cent from the 2003-04 financial year:

(1) (a)   What is the reason for this increase; and (b) could the same results have been achieved by other means; if so, what.

(2)   Are there any internal integrity processes which monitor the use of the coercive powers; if so, what are they; if not, why not.

(3)   Has there been any progress on the provision of a practice and procedure manual for the benefit of practitioners and those summoned for examination or to produce documents, as recommended in the report on the ACC Act: if so, when is it expected to be completed; if not, why not.

(4)   What progress has been made on the implementation of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission’s report on trafficking in women for sexual servitude.

(5)   The report gives details of initiatives taken on illegal firearms, and in particular, international and domestic consultation: what is the status of the strategic paper on deactivation.

Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(1) (a)   During the 2004-2005 reporting period the Board approved four special intelligence operations and four special investigations, including a national task force into established criminal networks. The use of the coercive powers reflected the operational and intelligence collection requirements of special operations/investigations, as well as support provided to partner law enforcement agencies. (b) No. The ACC Board is required to consider the effectiveness of powers other than coercive powers or, in the case of special investigations, ordinary police techniques, when making an Authorisation and Determination. The nature of the special operations/investigations conducted during the period required the use of the coercive powers to meet the purpose of the operations/investigations.

(2)   The decision to exercise a coercive power under the ACC Act 2002 is made by an Examiner based upon the satisfaction of statutory criteria under the Act. Decisions by Examiners are reviewable under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 and the PJC-ACC has been regularly briefed on the progress of challenges to the exercise of such powers. The ACC has also commissioned an independent review of the processes leading up to the exercise of coercive powers by Examiners to ensure that it adopts a best practice approach.

(3)   The status of the provision of a practice and procedure manual is that draft practice guidelines are in the process of being finalised but need to be further reviewed as a result of recent legal challenges.

(4)   The Government’s response to the Report’s recommendations is currently being revised in light of the new trafficking laws which entered into force on 3 August 2005. The PJC-ACC has also issued a Supplementary Report. The Government is currently finalising its response to the Supplementary Report.

(5)   The Strategic Intelligence Report on deactivation (Firearms Deactivation - Potential for Diversion?) was issued in February 2006.