Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Law Enforcement Committee; Report
On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, I present the following two reports: Examination of the Australian Crime Commission annual report 2015-16 and Examination of the Australian Federal Police annual report 2015-16.
Reports made parliamentary papers in accordance with standing order 39(e).
by leave—The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement has a statutory duty to examine each annual report of the Australian Crime Commission, the ACC, under the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010. This is the sixth time the committee has examined the annual report.
It is worth noting a few things from the report. The priorities the Australian Crime Commission focused on in 2015-16 were tackling criminal activity and profit-making; the Targeting Criminal Wealth No. 2 Special Investigation; the ACC-led Eligo 2 National Task Force; the contribution to the Criminal Assets Confiscation Task Force, led by the AFP; contribution to the multiagency Serious Financial Crime Taskforce; tackling high-risk criminals through the Highest Risk Criminal Targets No. 2 Special Investigation; the national criminal target list; the national target system; automated alerting; and state-specific special investigations into the highest risk criminal targets in Victoria and South Australia. In tackling criminal gangs, the priorities were the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Special Operation; the ACC-led Australian Gangs Intelligence Coordination Centre; the gangs intelligence hub; the national gangs list; and the national taskforce operation Morpheus.
I have a couple of other important things to say in relation to the report that are worth noting about the international deployments of the ACC. The committee was advised that officers were currently deployed in Hong Kong, Dubai, the US and Canada. Officers are also currently deployed to Europol, The Hague and the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom.
Something that was of particular interest to the committee was the adoption of wastewater analysis. This is a coalition initiative which in May 2016 the Minister for Justice authorised the expenditure of over $3.5 million over three years to establish. Simply, wastewater analysis tests wastewater through the sewerage system to make an analysis of what drugs are being used in a particular area. Thirteen drugs—illicit and licit—were examined. The two licit drugs were alcohol and tobacco. Over time, this will give us some very good time-series analysis so we can see the trends in these drugs, both the illicit and licit.
Further, when it comes to the work of the Australian Crime Commission Illicit drug data report, there are some interesting statistics. In 2014 there were 105,862 illicit drug seizures in one year. This was an increase from the previous year. Other findings: there were 514 kilograms of methamphetamine stimulus seized and 35,468 arrests. There were a record number of national cannabis seizures and arrests—59,271 and 75,105 respectively. There were a record number of cocaine seizures, weighing over half a tonne, and 2,092 arrests. There was also a decrease in the number of clandestine laboratories detected by law enforcement agencies.
However, these figures can often be an indication of the trends of those particular drugs. Although we commend the ACC in their work, we need to acknowledge the extensive network of the supply chains supplying illicit drugs into this country. As has been said many times by many experienced officers, the problem of illicit drugs is not something that we'll ever be able to arrest ourselves out of, nor will we be able to prevent the problem through the interception of illegal drugs.
In conclusion, the committee extols the Australian Crime Commission for its continued work to inform Australia's law enforcement agencies in their fight against serious and organised crime. In particular, the committee is supportive of the ACC's engagement with Australia's international partners, including the Five Eyes, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates. The inquiries into crystal methamphetamines and illicit tobacco have shown the value of fostering a cooperative relationship with countries that are known as transit points for illicit commodities coming into Australia.
On the second report—the AFP report: again, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement has a statutory duty to examine the annual report of the Australian Federal Police. Our AFP is the Australian government's primary policing agency and describes itself as:
… a key member of the Australian law enforcement and national security community, leading policing efforts to keep Australians and Australian interests safe both at home and overseas.
On staffing matters of the AFP: as at 30 June 2016, the AFP had 6,657 staff, including 3,481 sworn officers, 2,491 unsworn staff and 672 Protective Service Officers. Of these staff, 45 per cent are located outside the AFP's headquarters in the ACT, with 284 serving overseas and 28 serving in the Commonwealth external territories. One thing that is very pleasing to report is that the AFP continued to experience very low attrition rates in 2015. Overall, the adjusted attrition rate as at 30 June was just 2.61 per cent.
In conclusion, we again congratulate the AFP for the work they do in keeping our community safe. One concluding comment I would like to make is that this parliament, as a bipartisan policy, has decided that the excise in cigarettes will be ramped up significantly. This is effectively a prohibition by price that this parliament has gone down the track of. Whenever we have a prohibition, it naturally leads to increased criminal activity—to increased smuggling. In the years to come, that will put greater demands on the resources of both the AFP and the Australian Crime Commission. We need to make sure, if we're going down this track and we're going to see these additional problems with increased smuggling and increased criminal activity, that these two agencies are given the resources to fight that problem. I thank the House.