As part of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Additional estimates for 2006–2007, held in February 2007, Senator Evans put the following question on notice to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade:
Mick Keelty [the then AFP Commissioner] has also branded the Solomons Government as either corrupt or incompetent (see SMH -Police Mission to Solomons at Risk of Collapse 10/02/07). Does the Government have any information that would support these claims?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and trade referred Senator Evans to the Australian Federal Police for a response!
What is interesting here is not so much the arrogant response from the then Howard Government, but the question itself.
Mick Keelty is the former Australian Federal Police Commissioner and held that position during the Haneef debacle. It was a debacle that cost Australian taxpayers more than $8 million on issues directly related to the Australian Federal Police’s bungled handling of the case, plus a further $1.8 million in compensation. Making a grand total of $9.8 million that could have been directed to the core portfolios of health and education, portfolios that represent the future of Australia.
Mr Keelty was also the Australian Federal Police Commissioner who oversaw the wrongful, some might say vengeful prosecution of Mr Fredrick Martens, wrongly charged and prosecuted by the Australian Federal Police, convicted and incarcerated for nearly three years. He is suing the Australian Federal Police for $65 million, money that, if Mr Martens is successful, will be paid by you and me and again come at the expense of the core portfolio areas of health and education!
Moving right along we come to Jill Courtney who is suing the NSW and Australian Federal Police for up to $2 million, alleging there was never enough evidence for her to be arrested and held in custody on terrorism charges.
A statement of claim lodged in the Supreme Court says Ms Courtney’s arrest in 2006 was ”without justification or reasonable excuse and was motivated by malicious intent”. She is suing for false arrest and imprisonment and seeks exemplary damages.
She was charged and pleaded not guilty to conspiring to plant a bomb, possibly in Kings Cross, to murder persons unknown. The conspiracy case relied on tapped phone calls. However, after a 12-day hearing in 2008 in the NSW Supreme Court, Justice Peter Hidden directed the jury to acquit her.
He said the evidence against her was ”deficient” and the content of phone taps could never have risen ”above the level of suspicion”.
He also said he was satisfied it had not been reasonable to institute the proceedings and awarded costs to Ms Courtney.
Her statement of claim names three defendants – the state of NSW, the Commonwealth of Australia and Duncan Glenn Tchakalian, an Australian federal Police officer who was involved in her arrest.
At a glance readers will note that Australian Federal Police corruption or incompetence under the leadership of Commissioner Keelty has already cost you and me $9.8 million in damages and costs to fix the Haneef debacle. Excluding the costs of the investigation and prosecution, which in the case of Martens and Courtney will be hefty, the Australian taxpayer is looking at a potential damages bill of a further $67 million due to Australian Federal Police corruption or incompetence.
If Mr Julian Moti, the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, is eventually cleared of all the outstanding allegations against him which have been made by the Australian Federal Police, it would be anticipated that his damages would equal, if not exceed, those currently being claimed by Mr Martens. Sums of money like this equate to a lot of lost potential in educational and medical outcomes for the citizens of Australia.
What is the problem with the Australian Federal Police?
A new audit office report questions the ability of the agency to deliver good quality results on time and on budget.
It said the AFP was struggling under the weight of an extra 140 areas of policing responsibility, consuming up to 75 per cent of the agency’s total budget.
While the agency’s funding had increased by 250 per cent and staffing by 140 per cent over the past decade, Auditor-General Ian McPhee said the AFP’s planning and project management was “generally poor”.
“The AFP still lacks the processes, controls and structures necessary to provide the commissioner and the government with assurance that new policy initiatives are being delivered in accordance with the government’s time, quality and cost expectations,” the report warned.
Two thirds of AFP officers surveyed by the Auditor-General complained of inadequate support and training, saying they were not meeting the AFP’s preferred project management guidelines.
The report concludes there is “considerable scope” for the AFP to strengthen its monitoring of operations.
The key security agency’s budget reached nearly $1.4 billion this year, over three and half times the amount spent in 1998-99 in real terms.
The key point here is that two thirds of AFP officers surveyed by the Auditor-General complained of inadequate support and training. Clearly the Australian Federal Police are incapable of managing themselves, their budget or their powers, which vis-a-vis the average citizen are extensive!
How many more innocent Australians have to become the unwanted victims of Australian Federal Police corruption or incompetence before the government says enough is enough and disbands them.
It is worth remembering that it is not only Australians citizens who are suffering at the hands of Australian Federal Police corruption or incompetence, they have now exported their corruption or incompetence to Indonesia via Detachment 88, to the Solomon Islands via RAMSI and PNG via, well via just themselves!
There can be no justice without integrity and integrity cannot flourish in an environment where corruption or incompetence holds sway!