House debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Law Enforcement

2:46 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister please update the House on the Morrison government's plan to keep Australians safe by addressing the serious threat of organised crime through Operation Ironside, and will the minister inform the House on our plan to ensure our law enforcement agencies have access to vital data held overseas?

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. Clearly, community safety is an issue of priority for him, and I congratulate him on all of the work that he has done to ensure that the members of his community in the electorate of Sturt are safe and secure.

Of course, community safety was greatly enhanced and improved by the success of the AFP's Operation Ironside, which delivered a very serious blow to organised crime in this country. It took out a number of very dangerous criminals at the highest levels of organised crime, and this has a flow-on effect right through the crime supply chain. It means that there will be fewer drugs, fewer guns, fewer violent criminals on our streets. No matter how sophisticated or global the operation is, the bottom line is that we need to ensure the safety and security of all Australians and make sure we are keeping our communities safe.

One of the keys to the success of Operation Ironside was how the AFP leveraged their trusted relationships with international counterparts. These are relationships that have built up over many years, if not decades. The AFP worked very closely with the FBI, the UK National Crime Agency and other international agencies in what was truly a global effort. And again Australia did some pretty heavy lifting, with more than 4,000 members of the AFP and state and territory police across the country engaged on this operation. The local results have been absolutely outstanding. There have now been 283 people charged with 679 offences, and those who have been charged have been linked to Mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, crime syndicates and drug cartels.

We know that there is a lot more that needs to be done, and that's why this week we are bringing legislation into this parliament in relation to international production orders. This is very critical legislation that will support our relationship with the United States as we look at various agreements, particularly the Australia-US CLOUD Act agreement. What this will do is fast-track the amount of time it takes for our police to access data that is held overseas, principally in the United States, and, as we all know, organisations such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple are all headquartered in the United States. So the legislation that will be coming into the House to be debated will open up opportunities for the Australian Federal Police, for our agencies, to access that information in a timely manner. That of course is good for all Australians, and our safety and security.