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senate vote 2019-12-05#13

Edited by mackay

on 2019-12-13 16:10:51

Title

  • Bills — Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill 2019; Second Reading
  • Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill 2019 - Second Reading - Agree with bill's main idea

Description

  • <p class="speaker">Jonathon Duniam</p>
  • <p>I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That this bill be now read a second time.</p>
  • The majority voted to agree with the main idea of the bill. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill [for a second time](https://www.peo.gov.au/understand-our-parliament/how-parliament-works/bills-and-laws/making-a-law-in-the-australian-parliament/), which means they can now discuss the bill in more detail.
  • ### What is the bill's main idea?
  • According to the [bills digest](https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1920a/20bd065), the bill was introduced in order to:
  • > * *respond to concern about the validity of certain [ACIC](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Criminal_Intelligence_Commission) determinations and other documents raised in the case of [CXXXVIII v Commonwealth](http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/HCATrans/2019/206.html) by confirming the validity of current and former Australian Crime Commission (ACC) special operations and special investigations, the lawfulness of which has been questioned and*
  • > * *amend the process by which the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) Board authorises future special operations and special investigations, including by amending the threshold of which it must be satisfied.*
  • Although the bill does not expand or alter the powers available to ACIC, parties [like the Centre Alliance](https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1920a/20bd065) were concerned by the retroactive nature of the bill. That is, it will confirm the validity of current and former special operations and special investigations at a time when the High Court is considering the validity of these laws in the context of an alleged unlawful investigation.
  • <p>I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in <i>Hansard</i>.</p>
  • <p>Leave granted.</p>
  • <p class="italic"> <i>The speech read as follows&#8212;</i></p>
  • <p class="italic">The Government is committed to supporting the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and its critical role in working towards a safer Australia.</p>
  • <p class="italic">As Australia's national criminal intelligence agency, the ACIC undertakes essential and indispensable functions in gathering intelligence and undertaking investigations to inform a national picture of crime impacting Australia. In doing so, the ACIC is contributing to an Australia that is better connected, better informed and highly capable of responding to transnational, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, and national security threats.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The threat environment and risks to Australia's national security are constantly evolving, endangering the safety, security and prosperity of Australia and our Australian way of life. Organised crime syndicates are highly resilient to traditional investigative and intelligence gathering methodologies, and readily adapt to advances in technologies in their attempts to evade detection and disruption.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill will ensure that the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission can continue to effectively detect, prevent and disrupt the nefarious activities of serious and organised crime targets.</p>
  • <p class="italic">This Bill will make technical amendments to the <i>Australian Crime Commission Act 2002</i> to streamline the authorisation process for the ACIC Board to determine future special operations and special investigations, and will confirm the validity of existing special operation and special investigation determinations. The Bill does not expand or otherwise alter the powers available to the ACIC in the course of undertaking a special operation or special investigation.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The Bill also makes minor consequential amendments to the <i>Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010 </i>and the <i>Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 </i>as a result of the technical amendments to the Australian Crime Commission Act.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The measures in this Bill are vital to safeguarding the ability of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to fulfil its statutory functions and actively contribute to a safer and more secure Australia.</p>
  • <p>I commend the Bill to the Chamber.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Kristina Keneally</p>
  • <p>Labor supports the Australian Crime Commission Amendment (Special Operations and Special Investigations) Bill 2019 before the Senate. The safety and security of Australians and our economic and social wellbeing requires action against serious and organised crime.</p>
  • <p>The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission plays a critical role in keeping Australia and Australians safe. The dedicated staff at the commission seek to find, understand and respond to serious and organised crime by collecting, correlating, analysing and sharing criminal information and intelligence; maintaining a national database of criminal information and intelligence; undertaking intelligence operations; investigating matters relating to federally relevant criminal activity; providing strategic criminal assessments; and providing advice on national criminal intelligence priorities. Importantly, the commission is not the police force. The commission's role is to step in when traditional law enforcement methods are unlikely to be or have not been effective.</p>
  • <p>In the last financial year alone, the commission successfully facilitated 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 combat serious and organised crime and keep Australians safe.</p>
  • <p>Labor will always seek to 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. This bill is not perfect and the process that has led up to this debate is not perfect, but Labor does appreciate and thank the Minister for Home Affairs and the government for the bipartisan manner in which they have approached this legislation and briefed the Australian Labor Party.</p>
  • <p>Following briefings from the government and the CEO of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Labor accepts that there is an urgent need to pass this legislation to ensure that the ACIC can continue its important work. It's important to note that Labor is of the view that, had we been government, in these circumstances we would have legislated as well. However, we would have legislated differently. I can say confidently, however, that while we would have acted, as the government is, to confirm the validity of existing special operation and special investigation determinations and ensure that future special operations and investigations are on a sound legal footing, we would have done it in a different manner. However, Labor continues to believe that the commission should only be using its powers when traditional law enforcement methods are unlikely to be effective, and we do believe it is important that legislation be brought to this parliament to provide the protection of the special operations and investigations that the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is seeking.</p>
  • <p>It is worth noting that the coercive powers of the commission are extraordinary. They include the power to summon witnesses to appear before an examiner, to compel those witnesses to give evidence on themselves and others under investigation, and to obtain documents or other items held by witnesses. It is important that these powers are only used when absolutely necessary, with appropriate oversight and checks and balances.</p>
  • <p>I note that the minister has provided Labor with an assurance that, within 12 months of this bill passing this parliament, the government will refer the operation of this legislation to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement for review. I thank the minister for providing that assurance. I also note that the ACC Act is due for its statutory review in 2020.</p>
  • <p>Finally, I would like to thank the CEO of the commission, Mr Michael Phelan, for his detailed explanation to me and the shadow Attorney-General of why this legislation is important and necessary. Labor thanks Mr Phelan and the staff of the commission for the work they do to protect our community from organised crime and serious criminal activity. Labor supports this bill because Labor supports the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>