Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill 2019; Second Reading
The Australian Crime Intelligence Commission can access a specific suite of powers, under the Australian Crime Commission Act, to carry out a special operation or investigation. These include access to broad examination powers which enable the examiner to regulate the conduct of proceedings as he or she sees fit. But the bill does not expand or in any way alter the powers available to the ACIC in the course of undertaking a special investigation or operation. Rather, the bill streamlines the authorisation process for the ACIC board to determine special future operations and investigations and to confirm the validity of current and former special operations and special investigations. It is the latter that does concern Centre Alliance.
The retrospective application of a law to provide legitimacy to investigations into private citizens is one that should be scrutinised very closely. I am also concerned about the short time frame, in this place, between the introduction of this bill and us voting on the bill. I also note today reports that the High Court is considering the validity of these laws in the context of an alleged unlawful investigation. I do not suggest that the minister has sought to avoid an adverse outcome in the High Court, but I do believe that the consequences, even if unintended, should be explored by the appropriate parliamentary committee.
While I support the bill today in this chamber, I do so with some reservation. But Centre Alliance most certainly reserves its position, in the other place, pending further and deeper consideration of this bill.