Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
Estimates hearings, 24 May 2012
Australian Federal Police
- Mr Tony Negus, Commissioner
- Mr Peter Drennan, Deputy Commissioner, National Security
- Mr Andrew Wood, Chief Operating Officer
- Mr Roger Wilkins AO, Secretary, Attorney-General's Department
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you, Mr Negus. In your February 2012 answers to questions on notice you refer to the schedules and the recently renegotiated contract between AFP and NOSIC. Could you release that material as well, please?
Mr Negus: As you would be aware, we certainly released components of the contract we have with NOSIC. There were some reasons behind not releasing the remainder of that component. Apart from being commercial-in-confidence, the schedules contained operationally sensitive information, so we would not be able to release that. The response to your question was quite extensive and we would be more than happy to answer any other questions you may have today, if we can.
Senator RHIANNON: Is the services agreement that was made on 16 May 2003 between the Commonwealth of Australia and Global Edge Group Pty Ltd the contract in whole and all that is missing is the schedules? Is that correct?
Mr Negus: That is my understanding. I might get Deputy Commissioner Drennan to the table because it is in his area of expertise. He approved the release of that material to you.
Senator RHIANNON: I will ask an additional question in case it can be answered by this witness. I am also interested in the stated operational reasons why the contract does not include the schedules.
Mr Drennan: We released the contract in its entirety. We did not release the schedule because it actually contains, as the commissioner said, operationally sensitive material. Without going into too much detail, there are certain parameters and certain types of information that we ask for details on. That would outline or detail the types of things that we are interested in. That is the reason we did not release that information.
Senator RHIANNON: When we were together last, there was quite a bit of information released about how NOSIC operated. It was certainly presented that what it did was fairly straightforward. I am surprised that you cannot expand on the operational reasons. Could you expand on it at all?
Mr Drennan: No. What NOSIC does on our behalf certainly is straightforward. It collects information from open sources and provides that to us. When we say information from open sources, it is information which is widely available to the public, academia and the private sector. Where it becomes operationally sensitive is in the sorts of things that we are actually interested in and where we ask them to devote their attention.
Senator RHIANNON: The contract allows, at clause 5.1, the subcontracting of services with the AFP's written approval. Have services been contracted out? If that is the case, what individuals or companies have acted as subcontractors?
Mr Drennan: I am not aware that we have contracted anything out, but I would need to take that on notice to be definitive. I would hate to tell you that we had not if there actually were an occasion, but there is certainly no occasion which I am aware of. But this contract does extend over several years, so I would just like to check that to be precise for you.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you, if you could take that on notice; and also if there have been examples, what services they have provided. At clause 5.2 it specified that the type of services performed by a subcontractor can be varied with the approval of the AFP. Has that occurred? It sounds like you will probably need to take that on notice as well.
Mr Drennan: Certainly I would rely upon the answer I gave before, that I am not aware that we have subcontracted it out, but if we have, I will come back and reply to that on notice. We are quite specifically in a matter in which we ask NOSIC to collect information, and it is actually written into the contract. We are specific in that we expect them just to provide things that are from open source. We are not asking them to do anything clandestine or to do anything misleading or portray themselves as anything else. Even if we were to get them to subcontract that out, again we would be quite specific in what our expectations are.
Mr Negus: The control mechanisms that you were just advised about from the contract are there to protect the Australian Federal Police from NOSIC doing anything without our permission or our knowledge. Again, I know from the line of questioning last time I was here, and what we have answered on notice, that you were concerned about any covert or clandestine activities. As the deputy commissioner said, that is not the case. We have quite clearly stated in the response that NOSIC do not infiltrate meetings, they do not engage or interact with activists online on our behalf or on their own behalf. They do not disrupt or influence protest activities, they do not physically attend protests and they do not physically conduct surveillance of protestors or protest activity. The spirit in which the answer was supplied to you in the question on notice was very much along those lines, and while we have provided the contract—and rather than going through the contract line by line, telling what it is or it is not—the spirit of that answer remains what the AFP's position is through the whole contract. There is nothing covert; there is nothing underhanded that NOSIC would do on our behalf. We are certainly not aware of any contracting or anything else outside of that that would be put into that environment.
Senator RHIANNON: Have any audits been conducted to test, among other things, the veracity of the information provided?
Mr Drennan: The information is collected on the basis that it is open source information which is collected and provided to us. We do not rely upon it as the sole source of information, and it feeds into our broader activities. It is, if needed, verified and sense checked against other things that we know.
Senator RHIANNON: Could you just explain the process further? I had understood from the first part of your answer that audits had not been conducted and, if you could elaborate on the latter part of your answer I am trying to judge how you test the veracity of this material. Or if you do.
Mr Drennan: We do not audit the information. The information is received by us, we accept the information on face value and then if we are to act on the information it forms part of a broader set of information that we would obtain. We sense check that against other information that we may have, or if we need to, we make follow-up inquiries or reach out and speak to various groups. It is not like this is information which comes in and we take it as a sole source of information, which we then go off and act upon. It is not like there is something that we actually have to audit to test the veracity of it because it is just a subcomponent of the information that we receive.
Mr Negus: And the source of that information would be clearly identified in any holdings the AFP would have. If it came from an open source internet site, for instance, it would be sourced accordingly. Any person who would be able to use that information in the future would have to reference the source and the reliability of the source. Our intelligence analysts are obviously professionals in this area. They understand the different levels of reliability for the internet particularly, from Wikipedia right through to things that are of different reliability along that scale. So it is a matter of certainly sourcing this material, so going back to the original source and trying to validate that if it were to be used in any other fashion. It is certainly not evidence. It certainly would not be led as evidence without having to be looked at with a completely different lens by our intelligence analysts.
Senator RHIANNON: Have any breaches been established by the AFP in relation to NOSIC's practices including any security obligations?
Mr Negus: Not that I am aware of, but, again, as the deputy commissioner said, this goes back to 2003. Certainly through my period of being commissioner there is the fact that we have gone to some lengths to put together a question on notice response for you and to answer these questions here in the committee. Nothing has been raised with either the deputy commissioner or myself along those lines and I am sure it would have been given the lengths that we have gone to to provide the material.
Senator RHIANNON: Considering, as you said, it goes back to 2003, could you take it on notice to check if there have been any breaches including of security obligations, please?
Mr Negus: Certainly.
Senator RHIANNON: Your answers to questions on notice said that the contract was not put to tender because no other company does what NOSIC does. How did you ascertain that in the first place? I have got to say that was the one bit that really surprised me. In the world today it seems as though there are lots of companies out there that are all NOSIC want-to-bes.
Mr Drennan: I might correct it. It was 2002 when initially we went out to market. It was not at that time the only company that provided that type of material and, through the renegotiations of the contract, it was directly sourced in accordance with the Commonwealth procurement guidelines. When the contract comes up again, and certainly if there are other companies out there which provide that type of information, then we would look at them being part of a tender process for it. But in the times that we have been out to contract for it, they have been the only provider that provides that type of specialist service.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. Could you provide a list of sources that NOSIC has used to date? I did just want to make reference to some of the comments that were made when we were last together when you did suggest that it could extend to community noticeboards. So, for example, does that include noticeboards physically located at universities, libraries, community centres? So you may want to take that on notice but I was interested in a list of sources that NOSIC has used to date.
Mr Drennan: We certainly could, but again we would stipulate it is open-source information. It is information which is available to the public in general. It is more about being able to search that and bring it together in a consolidated manner. So whether it is extended to noticeboards or the internet or the newspaper there is nothing which is untoward or secretive in the manner or in the sources from which this information is obtained and provided.
Senator RHIANNON: Thanks, and that is why I would like to ask it on notice as you have identified that it is both in a consolidated form and publicly available as far as we know. So could you take that on notice, please?
Mr Drennan: Certainly.
Senator RHIANNON: Can you provide details of the groups or individuals that NOSIC has surveyed and provided information on since your contract with NOSIC began? I will give some context here. As you would be aware, it has been reported that the groups that have been surveyed include coal and mining campaigners. I was interested in what other categories you are looking at and if you are targeting groups or individuals or both.
Mr Negus: We do not provide details of who or what we might be investigating or looking at from an intelligence perspective. All I could say to you is that we do all of these things within the bounds of our responsibilities under the AFP Act and under the law. As I said, it would not be appropriate to share operationally sensitive information with yourself individually or with the committee. So I think we have to draw the line at providing that. That is why we said, with the contract, we do not provide the regulations, because we are keen not to overly impact upon what we are doing, quite rightly, to protect the Australian community, to enforce the Commonwealth law and to make sure that people who are exercising their right to protest or to actually be in these environments do so with some safety and some sense of being protected by the police. So, as I said, I am happy to entertain the questions along the line of what we do and do not do and how we engage this group but stepping into that other realm, I think, is not where we can reasonably go.
Senator RHIANNON: Picking up on the point about how you engage this group, does NOSIC just monitor groups or do they identify and track individuals?
Mr Negus: Again, that is going to their operational activities. I would not be prepared to disclose that.
Senator RHIANNON: Could you provide the number of groups and the number of individuals NOSIC has provided information on in the previous 12 months?
Mr Negus: No, I could not.
Senator RHIANNON: I want to pick up on the issue of complaints about AFP personnel overseas. I noticed in some of the reports that 40 of the 60 complaints that were reported on—I am referring to an article I am sure you are aware of that was in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 March—were made against officers involved in RAMSI. There appears to be a skewing of complaints to the Solomons. Of the total number of AFP officers deployed overseas, what percentage are deployed in the Solomons?
Mr Drennan: At any one time, there are approximately 350 officers deployed offshore. In the Solomon Islands, we currently have a total of 153. In addition to those numbers offshore, there are approximately 90 to 100 at any one time in our international network. When you look at the number of complaints, the Sydney Morning Herald article talked about 60 complaints over two and half years so approximately an average of 20-plus per year when we have approximately 450 people offshore at any one time.
Senator RHIANNON: If we go back to the Solomons, there is a skewing of complaints to the Solomons. Could you provide any explanation for that?
Mr Negus: Obviously, from the figures that the Deputy Commissioner has provided, there are 153 officers in the Solomons. It is our largest overseas mission, so you would expect there to be a skewing proportionally per capita to the Solomon Islands. From the figures he has given, just under half of all our people offshore in peace keeping or capacity building roles would be based in the Solomon Islands. I know Mr Wood, the chief operating officer, has some material that might be of some assistance as well in regards to this.
Mr Drennan: I am not too sure where you get information that there is a skewing of this towards the Solomons Islands because that is certainly not consistent with our figures. That number of personnel overseas I gave you is probably the least amount of people we have had offshore over that period of time. To put it in context, the numbers of complaints are not inconsistent across the board, they are not significant for the Solomon Islands and they are under the general number across the organisation. I am not too sure where you come to the point that it is skewed towards the Solomon Islands.
Senator RHIANNON: I apologise here if I have incorrect data but could you give me what the figures are for the Solomon Islands. I understood that it was 40 complaints that you had reported on.
Mr Drennan: I do not have specifics for the Solomon Islands. I have specifics for 2011-12 for the IDG generally. We provided answers to questions on notice of 26 May 2011 to Senator Trood in relation to the Solomon Islands, and we have figures for them. There were 18 complaints between July 2010 and May 2011, so it is not a significant number.
Senator RHIANNON: The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 21 March this year that there were 40 complaints made against AFP officers in the Solomon Islands. It is the International Deployment Group working with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
Mr Drennan: That is correct. But, again, we are talking about 40 complaints. It is our largest mission overseas. There were 40 complaints for that period of time. I think the article said 60. It is not an inconsistent number.
Senator RHIANNON: Can I just check the figures. I though you said 153 of your people were deployed in the Solomon Islands.
Mr Drennan: That is correct.
Senator RHIANNON: That would seem to be a very high number. It is more than one in four.
Mr Drennan: After that, I said that is the smallest number we have had. In the previous 12 months, and in a longer period before that, we have had higher numbers there.
Senator RHIANNON: Higher numbers of complaints or higher numbers of people?
Mr Drennan: No, higher numbers of people.
Senator RHIANNON: Are you saying those 40 complaints should be compared to a larger number than the 153?
Mr Wood: I will make two points. The first is that it is not clear from the Sydney Morning Herald article that it is from our data that a number like 40 is not for a single year. It would be over more than one year; it would be over multiple years. What we do not know from the reporting is whether their source was commenting on three years, for example, which some of the other data does relate to.
The second issue is that it is important to appreciate that, on the last complaint figures I saw, over 80 per cent of them were from AFP members holding colleagues to account for behaviour they would like to draw to the attention of the professional standards process. They are not complaints from members of the community within the Solomon Islands. It shows a healthiness about the reporting culture within the Australian Federal Police. In terms of establishment rates, while I do not have the specific Solomon Islands establishment rates with me, the establishment rates of these extensions are actually quite low, and similar to the rest of the AFP.
I was not up in Parliament House last night but I understand that the Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman was asked a similar question about the rate of issues that she is aware within the International Deployment Group. I am pretty sure the question was specifically about the Solomon Islands as well. Without putting words in her mouth—though I did read Hansard this morning—she indicated that she shares our view. She holds the view that there is a higher rate of misconduct issues within the International Deployment Group or the Solomon Islands specifically.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. Could you take that on notice, because it appears there is possible confusion about the figures.
Mr Wood: I assure you our figures will come from professional standards, not from the media.
Senator RHIANNON: I am not suggesting otherwise. But we have not got them before us, so it is making it a little—
Mr Drennan: Can I just clarify there. The article in the newspaper talks about the complaints but I am not too sure it talks about what period they were over. The information we have got is that, between July 2009 and December 2011, there were 60 complaints across the IDG. The actual number in the newspaper article may be correct but I think it is deficient in that it is not precise enough to provide the actual dates. So I think it would be a step too far to say that that was in a 12-month period. What we are saying there is that that is for the entire IDG. There were 40 over that extended period of time in the Solomons. For the number of people we have there, that would not be excessive or out of the ordinary.
Senator RHIANNON: Just so we are clear, could you take on notice to provide details of the period of time over which those 40 complaints came in and the breakdown of internal complaints, complaints made by Australian members of the public and complaints made by Solomon Island nationals.
Mr Wood: Senator, with respect, if I may rephrase that: rather than trying to reconstruct the Sydney Morning Herald figures, could we provide figures, say, for the last three years of the total number of complaints in the Solomon Islands—using our data and breaking them up into the source of the complaint?
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. So we have something to compare it with, if you take it over the three years, could you tell us the total number of AFP personnel in the Solomon Islands; also the number of AFP personnel overseas in general and the number of complaints in general, so we can make a comparison?
Mr Wood: Yes.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. I want to go to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. I understand that the Commonwealth Ombudsman has only sought information on one complaint against a member of the International Deployment Group since July 2010. Why is the number so low? Why was it only one?
Mr Wood: I understand that the Ombudsman took that question on notice last night, and so will be coming back to the Senate committees on that. I do not know the answer as to why the Ombudsman's office only sought further information on one complaint. What I would like to emphasise, though, is that the Ombudsman's office, through a number of mechanisms, including having a computer terminal in their office that connects directly into our complaints system, have visibility of every single complaint lodged against the AFP anywhere in the world on a live-time basis. So they do not have to seek information; we actually pump it into their office through a terminal that has access to the database on a real-time basis. I am not sure of the particular matter that was mentioned where further information was sought, but I would like to assure the committee that every complaint lodged in the AFP, through our complaints management system, has visibility in the Ombudsman's office on a live, real-time basis.
Senator RHIANNON: Could you respond to comments reported on 21 March by the former Ombudsman Allen Asher that his office was so under-resourced that it had little ability to investigate complaints of misconduct outside Australia?
Mr Negus: Senator, I would like to respond to that if I may. I read with interest Mr Asher's comments after he had resigned as the Commonwealth Ombudsman—in the Canberra Times, I believe it was. It was a great surprise to us. As Mr Wood has already said, we have gone to great efforts to work with the Ombudsman's office to provide them direct information, in real time, to their computer terminals on their desks so they do not have to do that. I have personally been involved in range of workshops, including with Mr Asher himself, where we have tried to make sure that our professional standards teams work well together, and there is a great exchange of information and intelligence between the two.
On the afternoon after that article appeared in the paper I got a phone call from the acting Commonwealth Ombudsman, Alison Larkins, to basically say she disagreed with Mr Asher's assessment. She also said she intended to write to the Canberra Times—and I have seen a letter that she did write to the Canberra Times—disagreeing with his assessment. I am far more likely to take the word of the acting Commonwealth Ombudsman about the current state of play than a former Ombudsman commenting from the sidelines.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you.
Mr Drennan: Senator, if I could just add: in June 2011 the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office actually travelled to the AFP's mission in the Solomon Islands, in conjunction with the AFP, to observe the AFP's operations offshore.
Senator RHIANNON: I want to move on to the Habib case. You would be aware of the recommendation that the AFP should develop a formal policy on what AFP officers should do in the event that they become aware of torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment that has been experienced by an interviewee who is being held in detention overseas. How have you responded to that recommendation?
Mr Drennan: We are due to report back to the IGIS by 30 June 2012 re our implementation. We will have implemented the policies, or the recommendations which the IGIS made which refer to the AFP—that would be recommendations 2 and 4. Could I also add that the recommendations were made on the events surrounding Mr Habib, which go back several years, and since that time there has been considerable development of policy and AFP practice to address those types of issues, in particular the AFP's National Guideline on international police-to-police assistance in death penalty situations, which very much covers the types of issues the IGIS raised.
Senator RHIANNON: The IGIS made the recommendation: 'Australian government agencies should prepare an apology to Mrs Maha Habib for failing to keep her properly informed about Mr Mamdouh Habib's welfare and circumstances.' Has this apology been given?
Mr Drennan: Perhaps we can refer that to the Attorney-General's Department.
Mr Wilkins: No, Senator.
Senator RHIANNON: Would you like to elaborate, Mr Wilkins?
Mr Wilkins: Not really, Senator. It was a decision of the government that they would not accept that recommendation.
Senator RHIANNON: I am trying to understand the flow of events. Did the PM's office advise the AFP that no apology would be made, or did the AFP advise the PM's office that the AFP did not wish to apologise?
Mr Wilkins: Neither. It was a decision of the cabinet.
Mr Negus: Senator, just for the record: there was no suggestion that the AFP should apologise in this matter; this recommendation related to the Australian government, as far as I understand.
Senator RHIANNON: The recommendation actually says 'Australian government agencies should prepare an apology', so that is why—
Mr Negus: It doesn't say the AFP, Senator, so it is going to be really clear on the record—
Senator RHIANNON: I acknowledge that, but I did read it out accurately. Did the AFP do its own internal review of its handling of the Habib case?
Mr Drennan: The AFP certainly assisted the IGIS inquiry and made our officers available. We provided all the information we had. We certainly reviewed the manner in which we dealt with Mr Habib, and the way in which we dealt with Mr Habib was consistent with our policies and our practices of investigating allegations of that nature.
Senator RHIANNON: Is that information available publicly?
Mr Drennan: No.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. I would like to move on to the AFP in Afghanistan. As we are coming into the challenging and important period of the transition, could you share with us how the AFP is involved in this transition, with the military withdrawal that is coming up.
Mr Drennan: Certainly. Currently, we have 28 people in Afghanistan. There are people deployed to Tarin Kowt, to do with our training and mentoring of the Afghan National Police through the multinational base training centre. We have people in Kandahar who are deployed with the NATO training mission. We also have people in Kabul who, again, are associated with the NATO training mission and engaged with the International Operations Coordination Centre and training the Afghan Major Crime Task Force. As the transition occurs in Afghanistan, we will maintain, for the next two years, a similar number of people to continue to provide support and training for the Afghan National Police, and our activities will be consistent with the government's transition strategy.
Senator RHIANNON: So, in summary: your numbers will stay the same and your current operations will stay fairly much the same through this transition period for coming years?
Mr Drennan: Our numbers will stay roughly the same; our activities will change in that we will be more focused in Kabul, in more strategic and training roles with the Afghan National Police from Kabul as opposed to Tarin Kowt.
Senator RHIANNON: Has the AFP been talking to AusAID in terms of providing assistance—again, in the context of the transition—because of the challenging issue of the security and safety of AusAID workers?
Mr Drennan: We are very much part of the whole-of-government with regard to security in Afghanistan. We do work closely with AusAID, and also with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and with the Australian Defence Force. Our paramount area of focus is to ensure the safety of our people involved, and they are only deployed to situations and locations where we can ensure their safety.
Mr Negus: Senator, can I just add to that, to be really clear: I think you may be talking about the safety of the AusAID workers in Afghanistan. The role that our people perform in training, in mentoring and in providing advice in curriculum development and those sorts of things are all done behind the wire—so in secure compounds and those sorts of things. For any role that AusAID would undertake which could be in a dangerous position outside of that environment, the force protection would be provided by the Australian Defence Force, not the Australian Federal Police. We are not in the position of providing personal protection to AusAID workers in that environment; that would fall through a range of different committees to the Australian Defence Force.
Senator RHIANNON: I am just trying to understand. Once the Australian Defence Force have left, do you then have a role for working with that, or hasn't that been ascertained yet?
Mr Negus: My understanding is that, again, for any Australian civilians who are working in Afghanistan, the security arrangements, whether it be private contractors or the Australian Defence Force, would have to be settled by each of the agencies involved, but I think at the moment the Australian Defence Force provides certainly levels of security for civilians working in that environment. Our own people have private contractors who provide protection for our own people in those environments. That is something that will be worked through the transition. But the AFP will not have a role in providing protection to Australian civilians within Afghanistan.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you for clarifying that. In January this year the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, released a new report, the Australian Public Service adviser review, titled Review of terms and conditions for Australian government officials deployed as advisers under the Australian aid program. It looked at the entitlements of aid-funded overseas positions, but I notice that it did not cover the AFP serving overseas. Can you provide the terms and conditions for your overseas advisers in the same way that AusAID and other government departments have now done?
Mr Negus: We could certainly table—
Senator RHIANNON: Take that on notice?
Mr Negus: We have a determination which outlines the terms and conditions of our staff. When you talk about 'advisers', these are AFP federal agents. The term 'advisers' is used when they are in other countries, but they are sworn police officers in the main. They are covered under an industrial determination, which we could certainly provide on notice.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. I have one final question, just going back to NOSIC. How can the public be assured that NOSIC is not undertaking activities that could be unlawful or obtained by clandestine or covert means? What I am referring to here is that in your answer to a question on notice you state:
The contract currently stipulates that no information is to be collected unlawfully or obtained by clandestine or covert means.
How can we be confident that that is occurring? Is this stipulation contained in the undisclosed contract schedules? What I am just trying to understand is that you have set it out in the answer to the question on notice but I was not able to ascertain how it actually works.
Mr Drennan: There is a clause which provides us with the mechanism to go in and conduct an audit of matters of that nature if we are concerned about it. If we go back to the type of information we are receiving, I think it would become quite apparent if all of a sudden there was particular information there which was of a very sensitive or very personal nature which would indicate that it is more than just publicly available information. As the commissioner said before, we have intelligence analysts, very experienced people, who look at this material, and I am quite confident that it would become very apparent to them quite quickly if material was of a different nature than you would normally find publicly available.
Mr Negus: Just to finish that answer, we are the Australian Federal Police, so, if we have a contractual obligation with someone to do something lawfully and they choose to step outside that, they not only breach the contract; they breach the law and they provide us with the evidence to put them in jail. So I suspect that it would be a very long bow to draw that they would be breaching the contract intentionally. If we were to see anything like that, we would certainly take action accordingly.
Senator RHIANNON: I just want to go to some questions to you, Mr Wood. In the February estimates you said that the AFP currently had 370 complaints on hand. How many do you currently have?
Mr Wood: I have some current information on complaints.
Senator RHIANNON: And I am interested in a breakdown of how many of the complaints are from members of the public and how many are from other AFP officers.
Mr Drennan: While Mr Wood is looking for that, can I confirm that, in relation to the subcontracting of services by NOSIC, I am informed that there has been no subcontracting of those services, so that would negate the need for those questions on notice.
Senator RHIANNON: Yes. Thank you very much.
Mr Wood: The figures I had at last estimates were out of the annual report. I therefore do not have more current figures on hand right now. I can get them before the hearing is completed, including the break-up of those that are lodged by AFP members versus lodged by others.
Senator RHIANNON: If you could do that, that would be useful.
Mr Wood: I am sure that will be sent through.
Senator RHIANNON: Also at that last estimates, you said that one of the strategies that AFP were considering to deal with the backlog was to recategorise matters so that some could be 'dealt with quicker and closer to where the events themselves allegedly occurred' by local superiors. When you say 'local superiors', do you mean AFP officers with less seniority?
Mr Wood: No. I mean that one of the key tenets, particularly for the resolution of lower level behavioural issues, is that they are more readily resolved by being addressed within the team where the individual works. I am talking about the supervisor of that individual or people more senior to that person within that team, not somebody of a lesser classification.
Senator RHIANNON: You are saying that the only change from the previous regime is that it is somebody who is more closely associated with where the complaint has arisen?
Mr Wood: Yes, but I would also make the point that this change has not occurred. It is one that we have proposed to the Ombudsman's office, and we will continue to work with the Ombudsman on a level of comfort in terms of any recategorisation from what we call category 3 down to a category 2 or 1. Under the structure, a category 1 or 2 behavioural complaint is dealt with already within the local team under guidelines issued for all staff. There are time frames and processes that are mandated for that. What we are suggesting is that some of the ones that come to a central professional standards area for investigation do not actually require that level of oversight and could more readily be dealt with by the supervisor or by some other senior member of the team, as lesser classified events are currently handled already. We have not actually made that reclassification decision yet. We have let the committee know that we are considering it, but we have not yet completed discussions with the Ombudsman's office about changing the classification.
Senator RHIANNON: Within that context, would complaints from the public be devolved in this way or would they be dealt with by the panel of adjudicators?
Mr Wood: It would depend entirely on the nature of the behaviour that was being complained about. There would be no change to the definition of whether it be an employee of the AFP or an external person making the complaint; it would be whether the behaviour itself was of a category 1 or 2 nature—that is, a lower level behavioural issue—which is dealt with by the team; or a category 3 complaint, which is of a more serious nature, which will still continue to go to professional standards; or category 4, if it is a corruption matter, which will go to ACLEI, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. There would be no differentiation on the basis of where the claim comes from; it is on the basis of the type of behaviour being complained about.
Senator RHIANNON: But there is some change in how public complaints would be handled?
Mr Wood: Not because it is a public complaint, no. If we make a change to the definition of what category 3 or category 3 is, then, irrespective of its source—so, yes, it could be a public complaint—it would go in the direction of that new categorisation.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you.