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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4989 ..

Australian Crime Commission (ACT) Bill 2003

Debate resumed from 23 October 2003, on motion by Mr Wood:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR PRATT (11.37): The opposition supports the Australian Crime Commission (ACT) Bill 2003, which complements the Commonwealth Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 and provides for the operation of the Australian Crime Commission in the ACT under territory law. This bill is part of a uniform scheme that was clearly agreed to by the heads of the national, state and territory governments in 2002. The Australian Crime Commission will replace the National Crime Authority and combine the investigative functions of the National Crime Authority with the criminal intelligence functions of the former Office of Strategic Crime Assessments and the former Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence-something that is desperately needed in the ACT.

In our present difficult terrorist environment it was fundamentally important that the NCA be overhauled and replaced by the Australian Crime Commission, thus integrating all those investigative and intelligence activities. The opposition supports those developments and the alignment of the ACT with this new national capability. The Commonwealth government identified the need to develop a new national framework to deal with transnational crime and terrorism. The ACT will benefit greatly from complementary state and territory legislation that will enable the operation of the Australian Crime Commission under territory law. I hope that all members in this place understand and agree to the need for this integration which is in the interests of the safety of our community.

We realise that these are timely and much-needed benefits for the community when we take into account the current lack of staff in ACT Policing. The Australian Crime Commission will now undertake investigations into criminal activity relating to the ACT, despite any federal basis that those alleged offences might have. The Australian Crime Commission will now assist ACT Policing and the Australian Federal Police in regional and national crime investigations. ACT Policing requires that assistance to help combat crime in the ACT and reduce the current number of criminal offences in the community.

ACT Policing will be supported through the commission's sanction to pursue organised crime in the ACT and as a result of the flow of intelligence information through territory and federal policing arrangements. That will greatly assist the already stretched resources in ACT Policing and better enable police to investigate offences in the territory. The most positive element of this bill is the representation of the ACT chief police officer on the board of the Australian Crime Commission. That will ensure that the needs of ACT Policing are met and that the information flow between federal and territory jurisdictions is consistent and clear.

In addition, the ACT will be able to ensure that law and order in the territory is dealt with at many different levels through many different strategies. We need as much support from other law enforcement agencies as possible to fill the staffing gap that is currently being experienced in ACT Policing. Members would be aware that I am concerned about effective frontline police strength in the territory. It is an issue that I have raised in the past and it is an issue that I will continue to raise. I welcome this bill which I think will

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