Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page
Overview of the inquiry process
1.1 On 13 July 2011, the Parliamentary Joint Committee
on Law Enforcement (the committee) initiated an inquiry into
Commonwealth unexplained wealth legislation and arrangements with the terms of
reference set out below
The committee has examined unexplained wealth provisions in the course
of two previous inquiries. The committee reported
in September 2007 on its inquiry into the future impact of serious and
organised crime on Australian society, making 22 recommendations including
- the recommendations of the Sherman report into the Proceeds of
Crime Act 2002, where appropriate, be implemented without delay; and
- Commonwealth, state and territory governments enact complementary
and harmonised legislation for dealing with the activities of organised crime
as a matter of priority.
The committee also inquired into legislative arrangements to outlaw
serious and organised crime groups in 2009. The committee collected evidence from
international and state police agencies that suggested the effectiveness of
combating serious and organised crime could be enhanced through the pursuit of
criminal assets. The committee recommended the introduction of unexplained
wealth provisions in Commonwealth legislation, in part leading to the
establishment of the current Commonwealth scheme, described in detail in
Terms of reference
Pursuant to the committee's functions set out in paragraph 7(1)(g) of
the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010:
(g) to examine trends and changes in criminal activities,
practices and methods and report to both Houses of the Parliament any change
which the Committee thinks desirable to the functions, structure, powers and procedures
of the ACC or the AFP.
The committee is examining law enforcement legislation and
administrative arrangements that target unexplained wealth in connection with
serious and organised crime, through bodies including the Australian Federal
Police, the Australian Crime Commission and the Criminal Assets Confiscation
Taskforce. In particular the committee is examining:
(a) the effectiveness and operation of current Commonwealth unexplained
wealth legislation and associated administrative arrangements and whether they
are working as intended in countering serious and organised crime;
(b) the likely effectiveness of proposed relevant Commonwealth legislation;
(c) the effectiveness of and potential changes to unexplained wealth
legislation and associated administrative arrangements in other countries.
(d) the extent and effectiveness of international agreements and
arrangements for law enforcement activities in relation to unexplained wealth;
(e) the interaction of Commonwealth, state and territory legislation and law
enforcement activity in relation to the targeting of criminal assets of serious
and organised criminal networks; and
(f) the need for any further unexplained wealth legislative or
Conduct of the inquiry
The committee advertised the inquiry in The Australian newspaper
and on the committee's website. In addition, the committee wrote to a range of
organisations and individuals inviting submissions.
The committee received 12 submissions, of which one was confidential,
and a further six supplementary submissions. Public submissions were published
on the committee's website. A list of submissions is included at Appendix 1.
In addition, the committee held public hearings in Canberra and Perth
and an in-camera hearing in Sydney. The witnesses who appeared before
the committee at the public hearings are listed at Appendix 2.
On 30 November 2011, the committee released a discussion paper
containing the evidence it had received up to that point, and preliminary
observations which it circulated for comment. The committee thanks those who provided
comment on the paper for their further contribution to the inquiry.
Structure of the report
The chapters of this report are organised around the key themes which
emerged during this inquiry and therefore do not directly mirror the terms of
Chapter 2 describes approaches to confiscating criminal assets and
existing legislation and arrangements in the Commonwealth, states and
territories and internationally.
Chapter 3 deals with resolving issues relating to Commonwealth unexplained
wealth laws, including Constitutional requirements, unexplained wealth
investigations and proceedings.
Chapter 4 focuses on harmonisation of Commonwealth, state and territory
unexplained wealth laws.
The committee wishes to express its appreciation to all parties that contributed
to the conduct of this inquiry, whether by making a written submission or
through attendance at a hearing, or in many cases, both.
Note on references
References to the committee Hansard are to the proof Hansard:
page numbers may vary between the proof and the official Hansard.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page