Speech- Australian Crime Commission and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 | 14 Sept 2016

Posted On: 15 Sep 2016

I rise to add my contribution to the debate of the Australian Crime Commission (Queensland) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 introduced on 24 May of this year by the honourable member for Rockhampton and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services. The bill was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee of which I am a member. I recognise the efforts of all committee members and our hardworking secretariat. The committee reported back in early August with just one recommendation—that the bill be passed. However, in a strange twist in procedure, government members added a statement of reservation. Only one submission was received prior to submissions closing on 24 June and that was from the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties. It expressed its strong disapproval at the restricted consultation process and the intention to amend section 439 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act.

The policy objectives of this bill are defined as follows: to facilitate the merger of CrimTrac, Australia’s policing information sharing agency, into the Australian Crime Commission, the ACC, the national criminal intelligence agency; and to address operational priorities of the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. CrimTrac ceased to exist as an entity from 1 July this year and, according to its website—
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission commenced operations from 1 July and is uniquely equipped as Australia’s national criminal intelligence agency with investigative, research and information delivery functions.

This bill amends nine pieces of legislation to achieve these objectives, and I will not list them all. Police will be permitted to use an explosives detection dog without warrant to carry out explosives detection processes in licensed venues where an event is being held or in a public place. As we heard from the minister, we need to make sure that all of our public places, particularly in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games, have the best protection they possibly can. Police will be granted powers to search a vehicle without warrant where it is reasonably suspected the vehicle may contain a knife not in the lawful possession of a person; ensure it is lawful in the PPRA for a police officer to arrest a person without warrant at the instruction of another police officer where there are lawful grounds for the arrest; and section 439 of the PPRA will be redrafted to allow judicial discretion to admit evidence of unrecorded admissions or confessions where the admission of evidence is in the interests of justice.

Lack of consultation is becoming a recurring theme with this Labor government, so it was not a huge surprise that public consultation was not undertaken during the drafting stage of the bill.

Mrs STUCKEY: Read the committee report please, honourable members. Labor says it will be inclusive, but usually it only includes its union mates in consultation. In this case it was only law enforcement agencies that were invited to be a part of these discussions.
Government members interjected.

Mrs STUCKEY: Read the committee report. However, it is the revised new section 439 that has agitated the Council for Civil Liberties which voiced its concerns that it has the potential to reintroduce verbals. Proposed new section 439 allows judicial discretion to admit evidence of unrecorded admissions or confessions where the admission of the evidence is in the interests of justice. An example given is listed as the case R v McMillan 2010 which the shadow minister has already mentioned. However, I do think it is an important case to reflect on. It relates to an applicant being charged with unlawfully trafficking dangerous drugs. The applicant was fearful of retribution if the incriminating comments he made were recorded during a police interview.

Subsequently the interview was halted and the recording stopped. However, the applicant then made the admissions to police whilst still in the interview room. The oral testimony of the police officers was excluded from evidence as it was outside the drafting of section 439.
Since then there have been other similar cases which have prompted the need to change this section and references to the term ‘record’ will be removed. It is not only the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties that believed that the changes to section 439 were of concern. Government members stated their objection in a statement of reservation that reads as follows— The government members note the lack of broad community consultation on this bill …
I repeat that—The government members note the lack of broad community consultation on this bill and the reduction of evidentiary safeguards as proposed by changes to section 439 of the PPRA.

It continues—Government members are not convinced by the argument that due to circumstances beyond the control of police, QPS may not be in full compliance with evidentiary safeguards. And as such, the proposed amendment to section 439 of the PPRA, allowing the judiciary to admit evidence where there is noncompliance or insufficient evidence of compliance with relevant safeguards is neither desirable nor necessary.

They go further with their statement to say—Government members recommend the bill be amended to delete the proposed amendment of section 439 of the PPRA.
Here we have a situation where government committee members are not only critical of the minister and cabinet for a lack of consultation but they also disagree with the proposal to amend section 439, and I note that the minister has an amendment before the House now that will omit the changes to this section.

As the member for Currumbin since 2004 I am well aware of the importance my local community places on living in a safe, law-abiding environment, particularly as we sit right on the New South Wales border. Our location presents ongoing challenges for police and emergency service operators as well as many other agencies like schools, transport, health and social services. It has been easy for offenders to simply cross the road to be in another state with different laws and frequently escape the arm of the law. Therefore, I welcome measures that assist law enforcement agencies to share information and align legislation.

Over the years I have hosted numerous meetings with officers from New South Wales and Queensland police services to discuss ways to manage issues affecting our cross-border community—issues like cross-border arrests and extraditions, child protection and domestic violence orders. While some progress has been made—and I am heartened by the willingness of parties on both sides of the border to work together—the need for a more integrated communication and information system is a must. As I have said, the contents of this bill offer some improvements, but we are still waiting for the revised memorandum of understanding between New South Wales and Queensland that the Premier was meant to sign on 11 August. What is keeping her? Perhaps she has been too busy trying to appease the demands of disorderly, out of control union members who are literally holding our great state to ransom as they flex their power, disrupting construction sites and marching through Brisbane streets chanting obscenities.

Mr BYRNE: I rise to a point of order. I always enjoy these journeys we go on, but I ask that we stay relevant to the long title of this bill please.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Linard): Thank you, Minister. Member for Currumbin, please keep your comments relevant to the bill.

Mrs STUCKEY: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am really pleased to have the opportunity to be able to express how important exchange of information with law enforcement agencies such as the one being formed in this bill is to the people of Currumbin. The existing MOU, which does have some law enforcement statements in it, is little more than a motherhood statement and I sincerely hope that the new MOU has some real initiatives with performance benchmarks attached. Given the delays in announcing this revised MOU, there is a degree of expectation it will contain actions to improve service delivery, assist with cross-border infrastructure and local transport that can carry passengers across borders plus child protection, access to schools and streamline law and order issues.

In closing, without doubt this bill has merit, particularly in relation to strengthening the national response to law enforcement intelligence and sharing. However, Labor’s proposed amendment to section 439 of the PPRA was unconvincing and I am very pleased to see that it is going to be changed. This is yet another example of divisiveness in Labor ranks and further criticism of a lack of consultation with regard to yet another bill.

 

Welcome from Jann

As the State Member for Currumbin since 2004 we have achieved much together to make the place we call home an even better and safer community.

It truly is an honour to serve the caring and connected residents of Currumbin.

Your thoughts and concerns matter to me and I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on your behalf.

My electorate office staff and I are here to help you with state government issues.

Kind regards

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