Law Enforcement Committee

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:28): I present the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity on the examination of the annual report for 2010-11 of the Integrity Commissioner, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee.

Ordered that the report be printed.

I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I have rushed down to the chamber to present this report from a little party we have been having upstairs. The party has been a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. Back on 30 December 2006, ACLEIthe acronym for the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integritywas established. And, indeed, 26 February 2012 was the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the joint parliamentary committee.

Before speaking to the report, I congratulate the commissioner, Commissioner Philip Moss, on the work that he and his staff have done since the establishment of the commission five years ago. Mr Moss was at the party I have just been to, with his executive director, Mr Stephen Hayward, a strategic support officer, Mr Nicholas Sellars, and Ms Sarah Baker-Goldsmith, the principal lawyer for the integrity commission. It was good to have them there and I congratulate the chair of our committee, Ms Melissa Parke, for initiating this little celebration of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the commission and of the oversight committee.

It would be remiss of me if I did not also mention that, apart from the commissioner, Mr Moss, our own Senator Stephen Parry was there at day 1 of the establishment of the joint committee, and has made a very significant contribution to the work of the joint committee since that time. Senator Parry, as colleagues will know, had a role in that sort of area of occupation prior to his entering parliament, and his advice has been invaluable. This is a committee that works in a bipartisan way, and I congratulate the chair and, indeed, all of my fellow committee members for the way in which they have discharged their duties in overseeing the integrity commissioner.

The Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006 requires the committee to examine each annual report and each special report prepared by the commissioner, and to report to the parliament. There have been no special reports prepared by the integrity commissioner during 2010-11, and so the committee has focused its examination on ACLEI's fifth annual report: on ACLEI's achievements against the performance reporting framework, the direction of the commission and certain issues arising from the commission's reported performance in 2010-11.

ACLEI achieved the set performance targets in 2010-11, although the committee observed that the balance between ACLEI's load and resourcing will need to be monitored continually into the future. The most significant development in the past year has been the inclusion of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service within ACLEI's jurisdiction. The committee recommended that this occur in its interim report for the inquiry into the operation of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006.

In 2010-11, the Attorney-General's Department engaged Mr Peter Hamburger to review ACLEI's capabilities, operating arrangements and resources. Mr Hamburger made three recommendations directed at establishing reporting arrangements on the timeliness of ACLEI's assessment processes and its coordination with law enforcement agencies; developing a memorandum of understanding between ACLEI and the three law enforcement agencies within its jurisdiction, under which ACLEI would be assured of an acceptable amount of physical surveillance capacity; and securing an agreement by which the law enforcement agencies would each transfer a small amount of funds to ACLEI to strengthen its capabilities in areas other than investigation, especially in relation to prevention activities.

The committee supports these three recommendations and will monitor their implementation. It is the committee's view that the most serious finding of the review was that ACLEI required greater access to high-end investigative capabilities, especially physical and technical surveillance, for which it had statutory authority but insufficient capability.

The committee congratulates ACLEI on another successful year of operation, and notes the significant challenges that remain. These include the ongoing integration of the customs and border protection work within the commission's body of work, improving the timeliness of assessments and investigations in the face of limited resources and further development of corruption prevention and education programs.

Again, I know that the committee wants to thank the commission management and staff for their cooperation and engagement during the year. I also just mention that on 13 December 2011, the then Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, the Hon. Brendan O'Connor, announced that the government will provide further funding to strengthen detection and investigative capabilities within the commission. The committee looks forward to further detail in upcoming budgets and annual reports.

The annual report also notes the establishment of the Community of Practice for Corruption Prevention to bring together practitioners from agencies under the commission's jurisdiction, and the formation of the Australian Anti-Corruption Commissions Forum, comprising integrity agencies from around Australia. The committee is now focusing its attention on its inquiry into the integrity of overseas law enforcement operations. A key goal of this inquiry is to understand the increased or different corruption risks arising from overseas law enforcement operations, from operating in different cultures with different views on corruption to operating jointly with other nations who have different rules and measures for addressing corruption. The committee will look at the nature and effectiveness of the integrity measures, models and legislation adopted by Australia and foreign jurisdictions, including for international operations. The committee is not raising concerns about existing corruption in Australian law enforcement agencies but instead is looking to ensure that strong, preventative measures are in place. Law enforcement agencies take their governance and accountability very seriously. The committee will consider the corruption risks facing law enforcement officers overseas and the extent to which Commonwealth law enforcement agencies are able to prevent and investigate corruption in their international operations.

In concluding, I again note the great work done for the committee by the secretariat, led by Dr Jon Bell; Mr Bill Bannear, the senior research officer; and Ms Rosalind McMahon, the administrative officer. They have been a great team. The committee is disappointed to hear that Dr Bell is moving on but, as the chairman said in the course of our little celebration earlier today, we as a committee wish Dr Bell and his family all the very best for the future. With that, I commend the report to the parliament.

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