Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 3096..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
The kinds of powers and operations authorised by these amendments dramatically increase the level of temptation and increase the likelihood of corruption by ACT Policing officers.
At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
DR FOSKEY: We owe it to ACT Policing to ensure that its officers' integrity is not compromised. To do this, we need to put into place effective checks and balances to ensure that control operations do not get out of hand. These amendments do not contain effective checks and balances. In fact, ACT Policing will undertake these operations under the weakest regime of oversight in Australia.
This legislation does more than provide protection for AFP and the Australian Crime Commission staff from prosecution for what would otherwise be illegal activities. It also gives the AFP, in its role as ACT Policing, the power to engage in operations where contraband like illegal drugs is not under its control. The absence of this power apparently led to the AFP withdrawing from operation Mocha. Operation Mocha was the notorious uncontrolled operation by the New South Wales Crime Commission which resulted in six kilograms of cocaine going missing.
There are many lessons which should be learned from the scandal of operation Mocha. One of those lessons for us in the ACT is that AFP officers were involved in the early stages of this operation and their acquiescence or tacit approval of the arguments used for justifying the operation should give us cause for concern.
The legislation under which the New South Wales Crime Commission carries out its controlled operations is very similar to the laws we are debating today. In fact, with one exception, they are tighter and more restrictive on the law enforcement body than the amendments that the ACT government is proposing.
Under New South Wales legislation, an operation can only be approved if it will not foreseeably involve conduct which, among other things, seriously endangers the health or safety of any person. Under the ACT's proposed legislation, the word "seriously"has been omitted; so an operation can only be approved if it is foreseen that it will involve conduct which will merely endanger the health or safety of any person.
While I welcome the sentiment, I do not know how realistic this is. I would have thought that some possibility of harm to somebody would be reasonably foreseeable with any operations involving illegal drugs, guns, unscrupulous criminals, biker gangs and large sums of dirty money where the object is to obtain evidence intended to put those criminals behind bars.
The approach taken by the law enforcement agencies in operation Mocha was to argue that their research showed that there were no recorded deaths from cocaine use; so it could not be said that a controlled operation that resulted in the supply of cocaine would seriously endanger the health of any person. Yes, they really said that! From