AFP under tight scrutiny
Canberra Times
M. J. KEELTY Commissioner, Australian Federal Police
27 May 2003

I WRITE to correct the assertions in your editorial headed "The paradox of our safety" (CT, May 16). The suggestion that the Australian Federal Police is not accountable nor subject to scrutiny is demonstrably wrong. In fact, there are few agencies that have more rigorous external, or indeed internal, oversight and transparency in their operations than the AFP.

The AFP is subject to scrutiny from the judicial process, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and ultimately the Parliament and the Legislative Assembly.

The tenor of the editorial that there is a grab for power is also wrong. It is for the community to decide, through its elected representatives, what powers agencies such as the AFP need to appropriately safeguard our community.

The AFP's focus has changed in recent times with more emphasis on protection of the community and prevention of crime. The current world environment demands that this be so. Our investigational capacity, however, remains potent and particularly enhanced when working closely with our partners.

High-profile work such as the bushfires and the Bali investigation aside, the diverse activities the AFP has recently undertaken include record amphetamine and heroin seizures, people-smuggling arrests, high-profile high-tech crime investigations, copyright investigations and other activities returning revenue to the Australian taxpayer. Our work amplifies the benefit and value of the powers and resources provided to the AFP.

As chair of the Australian Crime Commission, I find your assertion that the National Crime Authority has been replaced by "a less capable and less powerful body" in the ACC as misguided.

The reality is that, in the opinion of experts who considered the matter in detail, the NCA did not have sufficient focus on intelligence, whereas the ACC now does.


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