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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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The 25th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

The 15th of April 2016 marks 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report, which set many directions in current Indigenous policy. The commission was established in 1987 by the Hawke government, and examined 99 Indigenous deaths in custody between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989. The key finding of the Royal Commission was that the deaths were due to the combination of police and prisons failing their duty of care, and the high numbers of Indigenous people being arrested and incarcerated. Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners did not have different death rates.  Read more...

Latest Illicit Drugs Data Report highlights

The Australian Crime Commission’s annual Illicit Drug Data Report (IDDR) provides a statistical overview of illicit drug arrests and seizures and details the current situation, national impact and emerging trends related to illicit drugs in Australia and internationally. Outlined below is a brief snapshot of some of the key findings of the Illicit Drug Data Report 2012–13, with a focus on amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) other than MDMA (‘ecstasy’). Read more...

Law enforcement access to telecommunications data: neither secret nor new

In the wake of the furore over the leaking of details of the US Government’s electronic surveillance program, PRISM, reports emerged in the Australian media ‘revealing’ that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are accessing phone and Internet records without a warrant. In response, the Australian Greens announced on 11 June their intention to introduce a Bill to ‘strengthen the regulation of data collection on Australians’ by requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to access such information. However, warrantless access by police to communications data has been in place for over 15 years and reported in detail annually since 2008, meaning such access is neither secret nor new.... Read more...

Australian gun laws

The recent mass shooting in Connecticut in the United States has led to commentators to again consider Australia’s approach to firearms controls following, in particular, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre which involved the use of several assault rifles, and also the 2002 Monash shootings perpetrated with a semi-automatic pistol.National agreements by Australian governments after each incident formed the basis of current regulatory controls.Responsibility for the regulation of firearms in Australia The form of the two national agreements reflects the allocation of regulatory authority for firearms under the Australian Constitution. State and territory governments are responsible for regulating ... Read more...

Ombudsman’s report on covert operations

A report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman on the records of controlled operations held by Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, tabled on 13 March 2012, reveals the Ombudsman has continuing concerns that the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) is bypassing a review mechanism intended to provide appropriate external scrutiny of longer operations.Controlled operations are covert law enforcement operations in which one or more persons are authorised to engage in otherwise unlawful conduct in order to obtain evidence of a serious criminal offence. They enable infiltration of criminal organisations by protecting participants from criminal and civil liability for engaging in certain conduct as a legit... Read more...

Independent Review of the Intelligence Community—interoperability still an issue?

The findings of the recently released public version of the 2011 Independent Review of the Intelligence Community Report are largely positive. The report cites significantly greater access to information from overseas, improved capability, and increased performance among the variety of developments in the operations of Australia’s intelligence agencies in the ten years since 2001, and concludes that the significant investment in the agencies over that period has paid off. However, while the public version of the classified report is necessarily framed in broad terms, it is possible to read between the lines to identify some of the issues that are likely to have been expanded upon in the clas... Read more...

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