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Stronger anti-corruption arrangements

New amendments to Commonwealth laws will greatly strengthen the ability of Australian law enforcement agencies to combat police corruption.

The amendments introduced into the Federal Parliament today will provide the basis for the NSW Police Integrity Commission (PIC), which is continuing the work of the Wood Royal Commission, to intercept telephone conversations for the purposes of investigating police misconduct.

Further amendments will allow Commonwealth law enforcement agencies to pass information obtained from listening devices directly to the PIC rather than through the NSW Police Service.

These changes reflect the transfer of responsibilities for investigating police misconduct to the PIC from the NSW Police Service and the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and will be subject to the strict controls which currently apply under Commonwealth law.

The legislation will also enable Australian Police Commissioners to use intercepted information in deciding whether officers accused of misconduct should be dismissed from a police service.

The Federal Government is strongly committed to helping the States and Territories eradicate police misconduct. Nothing more insidiously frays public confidence in our legal institutions than corruption among those administering the justice system.

The legislation will introduce new arrangements for the issue of warrants for telephone intercepts and listening devices. This step is necessary to address concerns expressed by Federal Court judges that their role in issuing warrants may interfere with the performance of their judicial duties.

In order to ensure that this critical function continues to be performed by persons with the necessary independence and experience, the legislation will allow a properly qualified panel of members from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to issue such warrants.

To improve police effectiveness on a broad front, the amendments will allow also the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI), as well as the PIC, to access the AUSTRAC data base.

Media contacts:

Nicholas Harford, Attorney-General's Office, 06 277 7300

Jack Woodforde, Attorney-General's Dept, 06 250 6512