This week on The Beat, we discuss the implications of Abbott’s national security address, the Australian Crime Commission’s appearance at the House Standing Committee on Communications, unexplained wealth and metadata laws, the Australian Cyber Security Conference, HSBC leaks concerning Australia and our four-legged friends’ contributions to law enforcement.
National security address
On Monday Prime Minister Abbott made a National Security Address signalling a range of new security measures to counter the threat of violent extremism. New measures include the creation of a National Counter-terrorism Coordinator, and the possibility of revoking Australian citizenships of dual Australian citizens charged with terrorism offences. The issue of revoking citizenships for convicted terrorists is fraught with difficulties, as Andrew Zammit and I have discussed recently.
Essential to the introduction of those new powers will be having the oversight necessary to maintain the integrity of our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. One of the biggest threats to national security would be a loss of confidence in our security agencies, as David Connery and I explain on The Drum.
Australian Crime Commission at the House Standing Committee on Communications.
The House Standing Committee on Communications met on Wednesday 25 February to hear evidence from the Australian Crime Commission at the third public hearing of the inquiry into the Telecommunications Act 1997. The ACC have provided a submission stating that balancing transparency, accountability and law-enforcement effectiveness can be achieved by creating a regime that’s proportional to the threat posed by serious and organised crime.
The hearing will discuss Section 313 of the act, which authorises the disruption of online activities by some government agencies. The ACC is a strong advocate of this section. The committee’s hearings and submissions can be viewed here, along with an interview with Committee Chairman, Jane Prentice, on section 313.
Unexplained wealth laws pass both houses
The Senate passed amendments to the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act to create the 2014 Unexplained Wealth and Other Measures Bill on 9 February 2015. This new legislation will substantially help law enforcement to undermine criminal enterprises because it can be used to compel people to explain where their wealth comes from. A national approach, that allows police nation-wide to make the most of this legislation, is now needed.
As the debate about the Government’s proposed metadata laws increases, the AFP’s Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris presented a case for the laws, and contradicted claims that metadata plays only a limited role in criminal investigations. He also explained the actual content of the metadata and the process by which officers can request it.
Overseas, the controversy around the Swiss arm of HSBC Bank allegedly assisting their customers conceal billions of dollars to avoid paying tax continues. This has reignited the tax avoidance debate in the United Kingdom. Whilst that’s mainly limited to the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia has not been immune to the scandal. The Australian Taxation Office has been investigating the accounts of high-profile Australians such as Elle MacPherson and the late Kerry Packer. However, it’s not alleged that those individuals have broken any laws. The investigation continues.
Working like a dog
Finally, National Geographic has published a collection of Andrew Fladeboe’s photographs of working dogs, including search and rescue dogs. Operational dogs are used in Australia by federal and state police, as well as customs and border protection. You can also apply to be a foster carer for Customs and Border Protection Labrador puppies before they start their careers or adopt retired dogs. Here’s a salute to our canine colleagues who play a vital role in our intelligence and law enforcement operations.
Australian Cyber Security Conference. Barely a week goes past where we don’t find a concerning aspect of cybercrime to report on. The Australian Cyber Security Centre, a joint venture of the Attorney-General and Minister for Defence, will hold their 2015 conference on 22-23 April in Canberra. Registration and the program are available here.
Clare Murphy is an intern working within ASPI’s Strategic Policing and Law Enforcement Program. Image courtesy of Flickr user clement127.