Duty to examine annual reports
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (the committee) has a statutory duty to examine the annual report of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) under the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010 (the Act).
Paragraph 7(1)(f) of the Act provides that one of the specific functions of the committee is to 'examine each annual report on the AFP and report to the Parliament on any matter appearing in, or arising out of, any such annual report'.
The duty of the committee to examine annual reports of the AFP under the Act arises from an expectation that agencies which have been granted strong coercive powers, such as the AFP, should be subject to additional oversight.
Subsection 7(2)(g) of the PJCLE Act precludes the committee from monitoring, reviewing or reporting on the performance of the AFP of its functions under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code (that is, the AFP's counter-terrorism function).
Examination of the report
In examining the AFP annual report 2018-19, the committee held a public hearing at Parliament House, Canberra on 28 May 2020. Witnesses who appeared before the committee are listed in Appendix 1. Typically, the committee examines each annual report of the AFP and canvasses a range of contemporary issues pertaining to the organisation at its hearing. While the committee endeavours to restrict its examination to the 2018-19 period, matters that fall outside of the year have been included in this report where necessary for completeness.
Each AFP annual report contains yearly reports on the National Witness Protection Program, unexplained wealth investigations and proceedings, and delayed notification search warrants as required under their respective pieces of legislation. The committee examines only the AFP annual report.
The AFP annual report 2018-19 was presented to the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, on 11 October 2019, and was tabled in the House of Representatives on 21 October 2019 and in the Senate on 12 November 2018.
Structure of this report
This report comprises the following three chapters:
Chapter 1 outlines the committee's duty to examine annual reports and particulars of reports being considered.
Chapter 2 examines the purpose, outcomes and priorities of the AFP, changes to the AFP performance framework, the AFP's performance results for 2018-19, and the AFP's financial performance for the year.
Chapter 3 considers the AFP's progress in improving mental health and diversity in its workforce, the AFP's strategic and organisational restructure, key reports and findings from external scrutiny agencies which were released during or pertain to the 2018-19 year, and compliance with annual report requirements.
The committee acknowledges the cooperation and assistance of the AFP Commissioner and other AFP officers who assisted the committee in its examination.