COMMITTEES;Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity Committee;Report – 16 Jun 2015

As Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, I present the committee’s report, Examination of the annual report of the Integrity Commissioner 2013-14,together with the Hansard record of proceedings.

Ordered that the report be printed.

 Senator BILYK: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

As the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, I am pleased to table the report of the committee’s inquiry into the annual report of the Integrity Commissioner. The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, ACLEI, is responsible for preventing, detecting and investigating serious and systemic corruption issues in Australia’s law enforcement agencies.

ACLEI is required, pursuant to the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act, to provide an annual report to the parliament detailing its activities and investigations. The annual report notes in detail the expanded jurisdiction of ACLEI. While ACLEI’s original jurisdiction included the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Federal Police, it has been expanded to include the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, also known as AUSTRAC, CrimTrac and biosecurity staff within the Department of Agriculture.

While the committee is concurrently inquiring into ACLEI’s expanded jurisdiction, the annual report helpfully notes the challenges the expanded jurisdiction poses to ACLEI. The annual report notes the upcoming merger of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service into the Australian Border Force. That will be a high priority for ACLEI in coming years. The annual report discusses the usefulness for ACLEI of a Sydney based task force and notes that it is pleased to date with its results. The committee will continue to monitor ACLEI’s work and expanded jurisdiction with close interest.

The committee notes that ACLEI’s budget in 2013-14 was increased from $6 million to $7.6 million and that it had an operating surplus of $0.8 million due to ongoing difficulties in filling temporary vacancies. The annual report also detailed some of ACLEI’s effective operations, including Operation Heritage-Marca.

The committee notes comments raised by the former acting Integrity Commissioner, Mr Robert Cornell, relating to the significant leadership changes across both ACLEI and the majority of its partner agencies. The committee agrees with the assessment of ACLEI officers that corruption-enabled border crime remains a significant law enforcement integrity issue. It was with this fact in mind that the committee composed the terms of reference for its new inquiry into the integrity of Australia’s border arrangements.

The committee also notes that, while ACLEI has largely met its KPIs in 2013-14, there has been some seepage in its performance on some measures. The committee notes the expanded jurisdiction and lack of suitable staff prevented ACLEI from meeting its KPI that relates to assessing notifications and referrals. We also note that there are a large number of unresolved internal partner agency investigations from 2013-14 and 2012-13 and will seek a clearer explanation of the internal investigations completed and underway and the reasons for significant delays. Similarly, the committee will seek an explanation for ACLEI as to the number of ongoing corruption issues carried over from the previous financial year.

Finally, the committee congratulates the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI officers for the quality and readability of the 2013-14 annual report and for their cooperation and engagement during the inquiry. The committee also thanks Mr Cornell for his work as acting Integrity Commissioner and congratulates Mr Michael Griffin on his appointment as Integrity Commissioner.

Question agreed to.