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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1286

Mr YOUNG (Special Minister of State)(4.26) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The principal purpose of the Complaints (Australian Federal Police) Amendment Bill 1985 is to clarify the procedures which govern internal investigations within the Australian Federal Police so as to protect the rights of members of the Force and improve the operation of the procedures. The Bill is based upon recommendations put to the Government by the Australian Federal Police Association and addresses matters raised in the 1982-83 annual report of the Federal Police Disciplinary Tribunal.

The Association made detailed submission to me and to the then Attorney-General in 1984. It was principally concerned at what it considered the inadequacy of protection afforded members of the AFP under internal investigation, and at the possibility that its members might, in certain circumstances, be penalised twice for one offence. The protection afforded members under investigation-section 7 of the principal Act-will be increased by an amendment which more closely defines the method of giving a direction that a question put by a member of the Internal Investigation Division must be answered, and which clarifies the focus of that direction. Under the new provisions a direction must be clearly identified as such, shall specify particulars of the complaint and, where practicable, shall be in writing. The possibility that a member of the AFP might be charged with both a criminal and a disciplinary offence as results of the same transaction is to be dealt with by an amendment now being made to the Australian Federal Police (Discipline) Regulations. The Regulations are also being amended to require the application of the criminal standard of proof-that is, proof beyond reasonable doubt-to all disciplinary offences. This change will contribute to the protection afforded members of the AFP who are under investigation. It is appropriate to mention these matters here since the amendments to the principal Act and to the regulations constitute a single package of improvements.

The Bill, which has no financial impact, includes an amendment suggested by the AFP extending the provisions for conciliation of complaints, section 19, and a number of amendments suggested by the Federal Police Disciplinary Tribunal, new section 11A, sections 67, 68, 69, 71 and 79. Broadly, the purpose of those amendments is to: Clarify the right of the Commissioner to withdraw proceedings; ensure that all parties affected by the Tribunal's decisions have an opportunity to be heard; allow extensions of time for appeals to the Tribunal; overcome practical difficulties in the issue of summonses to witnesses; and institute a right of appeal to the Federal Court on penalties imposed. I commend this Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr N. A. Brown) adjourned.