Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 20 August 2009) . . Page.. 3423 ..
highest ranks in ACT Policing or the Australian Crime Commission. Any use of an identity must be in accord with the written authority made under the bill.
The bill will enable government and non-government agencies to lawfully create fictitious documentation and other evidence to support an assumed identity. Non-government agencies will not be obliged to create evidence, but if they agree to participate the agency will be entitled to the legal protections set out in the bill. Agencies assisting in the creation of an assumed identity will be protected from any civil or criminal liability when lawfully creating an assumed identity.
Operatives who are authorised to acquire, or use, an assumed identity will be protected from any civil or criminal liability. Conversely, the bill makes it clear that any abuse of an assumed identity by an operative is not protected. Anyone acquiring or using an assumed identity is only protected if they abide by terms of the authority and the provisions of the bill. Anyone abusing an assumed identity for criminal conduct will be liable to prosecution.
To protect police and other operatives, the bill also creates offences for disclosing information about assumed identities. The bill also creates serious offences if information is disclosed with the intent of causing harm to someone or undermining an investigation.
Compliance with the law and monitoring of the use of assumed identities is also built into the bill. The heads of ACT Policing and the Australian Crime Commission must conduct an internal audit of authorities made under the foreshadowed act at least once every six months while an authority is in effect, and once every six months after an authority ends. A written report of the results of the audit must be kept by the law enforcement agency.
ACT Policing and the Australian Crime Commission must provide a yearly report to the minister on any decisions that make, or consider making, an assumed identity. A de-identified copy of that report will also be tabled in the Assembly.
The bill also establishes independent oversight by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman may inspect records made under the foreshadowed act. If the Ombudsman inspects the records then a report on the inspection must be prepared under the terms of the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 2004. The report will be de-identified to protect operatives, agencies, investigations and potential prosecutions.
As I have outlined, this bill will provide law enforcement agencies working in the ACT with modern powers to break down and infiltrate organised crime.
I am pleased to say that this bill will also strengthen the collaboration of law enforcement agencies across borders. The bill will enable other jurisdictions with corresponding law to use their authorised assumed identities in the ACT, and the ACT to use its assumed identities in other participating jurisdictions.
If the Assembly passes this bill, collaboration and joint investigations with Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania will be so much easier. The commonwealth government has also introduced a bill based upon the national model.