Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity Committee

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:46): On behalf of the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity I present the final report of the inquiry into the operation of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006 together with the Hansard record of the committee's proceedings and docu_ments received by the committee.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

Firstly, I thank the committee secretariat for the great work that they do in looking after this committee and the research that they put into it. I also want to thank the chair of the committee, Melissa Parke, and also the members of the committee. Perhaps I should not identify individuals but I do want to mention Senator Stephen Parry, who is a very keen member of that committee and brings some expertise into the operations of the committee. There are also a number of other members of that committee who have a background in law enforcement and bring great knowledge to the committee and the work that it does.

Over the last two years, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Com_mission for Law Enforcement Integrity has been conducting an inquiry into the operation of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, fulfilling a statutory requirement within that act for such a review to occur. The final report adds to existing recommendations made in an interim report tabled in February last year. The committee is pleased that one of those recommendationsthe addition of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to ACLEI's jurisdictionhas been accepted by the government. The committee looks forward to the government's response to further recommendations we made in both the interim report and the final report.

The committee undertook a visit to Darwin and was hosted there by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Mr Phil Moss, the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner, was also invited to come along. The committee is very appre_ciative of the way they looked after the commissioner and the committee, and gave the committee a bit of an understanding of some of their roles and procedures, which is important because Customs is now part of the ACLEI process.

The committee has continued to consider the extent of ACLEI's jurisdiction, endorsing a corruption risk based approach. In essence, the committee agrees that those agencies with the highest potential corruption risk should be subject to ACLEI's oversight, ensuring the application of measures and resources that are commensurate with the corruption risk. The committee has recommended the establishment of a second tier of jurisdiction within the LEIC Act, for agencies assessed to be of intermediate risk. Whilst law enforcement agencies with a higher corruption riskthat is, the AFP, the Australian Crime Commission and Customswould continue to be subject to full ACLEI oversight, second tier agencies would be subject to a more limited relationship with ACLEI. This arrangement would enable limited corruption oversight of agencies with medium corruption risk, while preserving ACLEI's effectiveness and ability to manage with the appropriate resources. ACLEI would have the opportunity to establish a relationship with medium-risk agencies with a law enforcement function, building resistance to corruption through education, awareness raising and ongoing communication. ACLEI would also develop a greater understanding of the corruption risk profile of medium-risk agencies.

Based on the evidence provided during the course of the inquiry, the committee recom_mends that, at minimum, the Australian Tax Office, CrimTrac, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship be included in a newly established second tier jurisdiction.

I am conscious that there are other members who want to speak to the report, so I will shortly be seeking leave to have the remainder of my speech incorporated in Hansard. In concluding my verbal remarks, I again thank the secretariat, the committee members and the commission itself. The commission is doing a fabulous job. It is a relatively new arrangement. We have been to see the commissioner and his staff at work to get a better understanding of that. They do a fabulous job and my best wishes and congratulations go to them. Again, my thanks to the committee. I seek leave to have the remainder of my speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The remainder of the speech read as follows

The committee has also proposed a relationship between ACLEI and non-law enforcement related Commonwealth agencies that capitalises on ACLEI's unique experience and understanding of corruption issues. This includes continued collaboration, with the potential, in certain circumstances, for any agency to request ACLEI's assistance in a corruption investigation. In making these recommendations, the committee has not alleged the existence of widespread or serious corruption in second-tier agencies or the broader Public Service. Commonwealth agencies take their governance and accountability requirements very seriously. However, the potential for corruption suggests the need for, at the very least, a limited relationship with ACLEI. The committee has endorsed an integrity approach that understands that, where incentives for corrupt behaviour exist, the potential for corruption cannot be ignored. For this reason, the committee continues to emphasise the need for enhanced corruption detection and prevention measures.

In enhancing the operation of the LEIC Act, the committee has also recommended that the definition of corruption be further developed so as to provide a more detailed and comprehensive description of potential corrupt conduct for the purposes of the act. The committee considers that further definition of the term would provide greater clarity to the anti-corruption work conducted by ACLEI, while serving to more effectively delineate corruption issues from issues better handled by other agencies.

Finally, the committee considered the large amount of evidence provided in relation to broader issues of Commonwealth-wide integrity, including suggestions for greater coordination of existing integrity agencies and the possible establishment of a Commonwealth integrity commission. While the current efforts of agencies including the APSC, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the ANAO and ACLEI contribute to Commonwealth integrity, the committee has been left with the impression that more needs to be done.

In conducting the inquiry, the committee received evidence that suggested the need for anti-corruption measures that extend beyond narrowly defined law enforcement functions to all public sector agencies and actors. The committee has therefore recommended that the government conduct a review of the Commonwealth integrity system, with particular examination of the merits of establishing a Commonwealth integrity commission. The committee is mindful of the need to retain ACLEI's dedicated law enforcement role in any future arrangements.

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