Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 1Introduction

Committee’s duty to examine annual reports

1.1The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (the committee) has a duty to examine each annual report of the Australian Federal Police (AFP).[1] The duty arises from an expectation that agencies which have been granted strong coercive powers, such as the AFP, should be subject to additional oversight.[2]

1.2The committee is precluded from monitoring, reviewing, or reporting on the performance by the AFP of its functions under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (that is, the AFP’s counter-terrorism functions).[3] The AFP’s performance of these functions is monitored and reviewed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.[4]

Examination of the annual report

1.3This report examines the AFP’s annual report for 2022-23. In order to examine the report, the committee held a public hearing on 5 February 2024 in Canberra. Witnesses who appeared before the committee are listed in Appendix 1. Typically, the committee examines the annual report and canvasses a range of contemporary issues at the hearing. Matters that fall outside the 2022-23 reporting period have been included in this report where necessary for completeness.

Key background

Presentation of the annual report

1.4The AFP’s 2022-23 annual report was presented out of session in the Senate on 20 October 2023 and tabled in the House of Representatives on16November2023.[5] The letter of transmittal indicates that the report was presented to the Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC, MP, on 14September 2023.[6]

AFP portfolio arrangements

1.5The AFP was within the Attorney-General’s Portfolio for the whole reporting period, having moved from the Home Affairs portfolio on 1 July 2022.

AFP purpose and functions

1.6In 2022-23, the AFP’s purpose was: ‘As Australia’s national policing agency, we protect Australians and Australia’s interests’.[7] The functions of the AFP are provided at section 8 of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979.

AFP strategic direction and priorities

1.7The AFP is guided by ministerial directions issued under subsection 37(2) of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979. The current direction was issued on 20October2023 and sets out numerous priority areas under the umbrellas of the protection of life, the protection of livelihoods and the protection of the Commonwealth.[8] The AFP Commissioner provides a Statement of Intent in response outlining how the AFP manage these priorities. The most recent Statement of Intent was also released on 20 October 2023.[9]


1.8The committee acknowledges the cooperation and assistance of the AFP Commissioner and other AFP officers who aided the committee in its inquiry.

Structure of this report

1.9This report contains two chapters:

this chapter provides key details about the inquiry and background about the AFP’s functions and priorities; and

Chapter 2 examines key issues relating to the AFP’s performance in the reporting period and provides the committee view.


[1]Paragraph 7(1)(f) of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010.

[2]See the Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney-General, House of Representatives Hansard, 18March2010, pp. 2924-2925.

[3]Paragraph 7(2)(g) of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010.

[4]Paragraph 29(1)(baa) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001.

[5]Received out of session in the Senate on 20 October 2023 and tabled on 6 November 2023, Journals of the Senate, No. 77—6 November 2023, p. 2219; and House of Representatives, Votes and Proceedings, No. 92—16 November 2023, p. 1146.

[6]Australian Federal Police (AFP) Annual Report 2022-23, p. v.

[7]AFP, Annual Report 2022-23, p. 8.

[8]The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC, MP, Attorney-General, Ministerial Direction, 20 October 2023 (accessed 16 January 2024)

[9]AFP Commissioner Statement of Intent, 20 October 2023 (accessed 16 January 2024).