Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill 2019; Second Reading
Labor supports the Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill 2019 before the House. Labor believes that the safety and security of Australians and our economic and social wellbeing demand action against serious and organised crime. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission plays an important role in gathering intelligence and undertaking investigations that help to inform the nationwide picture of and response to crime in Australia. The work of the commission includes developing strategic criminal intelligence assessments and advice on national crime; working with partners, both domestic and international, to disrupt the activities of serious and organised crime; conducting special operations and special investigations of priority areas; and developing and maintaining national information- and intelligence-sharing services and systems. Last financial year the work of the commission led to the discovery of 95 previously unknown targets, the disruption of 28 criminal entities, the arrest of 169 people, the laying of 607 charges and the seizure of drugs and precursors with a street value of $2.3 billion. This is vital work that helps to combat serious and organised crime and to keep Australians safe.
Labor will always work in a cooperative and bipartisan manner to ensure our police and national security agencies have the powers and resources they need to keep our nation secure and our people safe. Labor supports the work of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and we support sensible and appropriate measures to ensure that current and previous operations and investigations are lawful. This bill will ensure that the commission can continue its work to detect, prevent and disrupt serious and organised crime. It will amend the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 to streamline the authorisation process for future special operations and special investigations and it will confirm the validity of existing special operations and special investigations determinations. The bill will also make consequential amendments to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010 and the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.
As the Minister for Home Affairs noted in his second reading speech, through this bill the government is not seeking to expand or otherwise amend the powers available to the commission 'in the course of undertaking a special operation or special investigation'. Labor supports this bill because it wants to ensure that the commission can effectively fulfil its statutory functions and continue its important work.
I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the bipartisan manner in which the Minister for Home Affairs and the government have acted with respect to this matter. I note that the minister has also provided Labor with an assurance that within 12 months of this bill passing the parliament the government will refer operation of the legislation to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement for review. I thank the minister for providing that assurance.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge the assistance provided by the CEO of the commission, Mr Phelan, and express Labor's appreciation to the staff of the commission for the work they do to protect our community from organised crime and serious criminal activity.