Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 27 October 2011) . . Page.. 5148 ..
this report has been delayed until the inspectorate has had an opportunity to consider the media reports.
Yesterday I wrote to the Attorney-General about these matters. He responded the same day and I thank him for the promptness and the thoroughness of his response. I am satisfied that his advice answers the concerns adequately. In particular he quite correctly pointed out that the criticism was directed in the main at undercover operatives who give false evidence as defendants rather than, as intended by this bill, as witnesses. However, the question of the threshold remains. In reply to my letter the attorney advised:
Authority to conduct a controlled operation can only be granted if the chief officer is satisfied about a number of criteria including that the operation relates to an offence against an ACT law punishable by imprisonment of 3 years or more.
The view of the ACT Bar Association is that this threshold is far too low for the kinds of operation that this bill and others in the suite of laws that relate to controlled or undercover operations would contemplate. This is a matter that I draw to the attorney’s attention and we will be monitoring this and the general suite of laws as they come into operation. The Bar Association is concerned also about the court directing a jury not to give any more or less weight to evidence or to draw any inference against the defendant or another party to the proceedings because a witness identity protection certificate is present, or if the court makes an order about the disclosure or otherwise of an operative’s name or address. It says that such directions “trespass on the role of the jury”.
Whilst I am satisfied that the kinds of directions contemplated are reasonable, I again draw the matter to the attorney’s attention. This too is a matter that we will monitor, and we will continue our discussions with the legal fraternity about the operations of these matters.
Protection of our community from incidences of serious crime is a matter of paramount importance. This bill and the whole suite of laws that goes with it seek to make our community a safer place and it is on the basis of this that we will supporting this legislation today.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (12.07): The Greens will also be supporting this bill today. In recent years the ACT has put in place three targeted schemes to better equip our police to respond to organised crime and crime that crosses borders. The three schemes regulate assumed identities, controlled operations and surveillance devices. The bill today is the fourth and final part of the reforms and is designed to support operatives who are working under an assumed identity or who are working in a controlled operation.
The approach put in place by these four schemes is designed to allow police to proactively investigate crimes in a targeted manner and to prosecute offenders. I have previously described this approach as a cool-headed, evidence-based approach to crime, and this can be contrasted against rushed responses to crime such as creating