It was pointed out to me last night that I had missed Mr Gary Lee-Rogers from my list of serving AFP/APS officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for insisting on integrity in the face of the corruption that is to-day’s AFP.
The idea behind the so called whistleblower provisions, which for the Commonwealth Public Service is contained in S.16 of the Public Service Act 1999, is to provide a mechanism for interested parties to expose misconduct within the public sector, which includes the AFP.
The Australian Standard on Whistleblower protection programs for Entities is AS 8004 – 2003 which notes the need to detect misconduct and the benefits of establishing a protection program in its foreword:
A whistleblower protection program is an important element in detecting corrupt, illegal or other undesirable conduct (defined later in this standard as ‘reportable conduct’) within an entity and as such, is a necessary ingredient in achieving good corporate governance.
This is all very well and good, but what are the realities? Well, the death of Gary Lee-Rogers is one such reality.
Gary Lee-Rogers was onto something in the months before his mysterious death.
The Australian Protective Service (APS) assistant inspector blew the whistle on what he said was corruption that compromised security at Sydney Airport before the 2000 Olympics.
He met the federal MP for Eden-Monaro, Gary Nairn, who contacted the then-Attorney-General, Daryl Williams. But Mr Lee-Rogers was found dead in his Queanbeyan apartment before Mr Williams could reply.
A protective service internal asset audit, disclosed on 18 October 2004 in the NSW Coroner’s Court in Queanbeyan, found that 47 revolvers, two rifles, six shotguns, 30 sets of handcuffs and 18 batons had disappeared from the service’s custody. Firearms training systems, video cameras, X-ray equipment and 25 computers were also missing.
Other documents tendered to the court said dozens of security officers were trained by unqualified staff and that failures in asset management extended to firearms security at Sydney Airport.
Police found Mr Lee-Rogers’s body on 1 October 2003 in his Queanbeyan flat with a blood-stained knife, bloodied pillow and two white plastic bottles in his right hand.
Initially they secured the flat as a crime scene. But the death was later treated as natural.
During the coronial inquest into Mr Lee-Rogers’s death, Deborah Locke, of Whistleblowers Australia, said:
“…officers from the protective service, NSW police and Australian Federal Police were involved in intimidating Mr Lee-Rogers and obstructed investigations into his death… Mr Lee-Rogers was murdered to stop him giving evidence against his colleagues in subsequent court proceedings”
Ms Locke implicated several named individuals, whose names were suppressed by order of the coroner.
But under questioning, Ms Locke conceded there was no clear evidence that individual officers were behind his death.
Mr Lee-Rogers had told friends, relatives, and members of Whistleblowers Australia that if he disappeared it would not be suicide
The Role of the APS
Under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979, the ACT Police and the Commonwealth Police, which contained a Protective Service Branch, amalgamated to form the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The Protective Service Branch was given the function of safeguarding Commonwealth property both inside and outside the Australian Capital Territory.
In February 1983, the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking remarked on the significant proportion of the AFP who were not engaged in investigative duties. The Commission went on to recommend that the Protective Services component be severed from the AFP and re-formed into a separate force responsible for the security of Commonwealth property. The Commission further recommended that this component should take over from the AFP all duties presently performed by uniformed members of the AFP, except the traditional uniformed policing duties performed in the Australian Capital Territory. The AFP also strongly supported the separation of this group from the AFP itself.
With the passage of the Australian Federal Police Amendment Act 1984, the protective service functions were transferred from the AFP to a separate protective service organization within the Department of Local Government and Administrative Services (then Department of Administrative Services).
The Australian Protective Service (APS) provided guarding services at Commonwealth and joint government establishments of significance for national security or which were involved in sensitive or hazardous activities. It also guarded the official residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister, as well as Immigration and Detention Centres.
Following the terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September 2001, the Australian Government decided to reverse its earlier decision to separate the APS from the AFP and on 4 December 2003, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to re-amalgamate the two bodies.
In the explanatory material explaining its decision, the Government stated that the merger of the APS with the AFP was part of its response to terrorism since 11 September 2001. According to the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Government wished to ‘consolidate some activities to achieve a better coordinated governmental response’ to terrorism. The Parliament has now passed several pieces of legislation to achieve this end, particularly (insofar as the APS is concerned) the Australian Protective Service Amendment Act 2002 (which dealt with the transfer of responsibility for the APS from the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department to the Commissioner of Police (AFP)) and the Australian Protective Service Amendment Act 2003 (which increased the powers of protective service officers undertaking protective security functions by granting the power to require a person’s name, the power to stop and search, and the power of seizure). Notably however, a distinction is maintained between police officers (or members) and protective service officers. Consequently a distinction is maintained between traditional policing and investigative functions on the one hand and protective service functions on the other.
The Bill also contains amendments to the AFP Act and the Crimes Act to give effect to a resolution passed by the Commonwealth Government-State Summit on Transnational Crime and Terrorism in April 2002. According to the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, the resolution committed the Commonwealth and State Governments:
To legislate and develop administrative arrangements to allow investigation by the Australian Federal Police into State offences incidental to multi-jurisdictional crime.
In November 2003, the Australasian Police Ministers’ Council accepted a recommendation by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General-Australian Police Ministers Council Joint Working Group that Commonwealth legislation be amended ‘to allow the AFP to utilise Commonwealth investigative powers to investigate State offences with a federal aspect’.
The AFP, in extending their policing functions, have also extended the potential range and depth of their opportunities for corruption. The APS, that bastion of integrity that in 2004 was unable to account for 47 of its revolvers, two rifles, six shotguns, 30 sets of handcuffs and 18 batons, is the same unit within the AFP that is responsible for stopping drugs, guns and other illegal imports from entering the country. It is the same unit that allegations abound about regarding the Schapelle Corby matter. It is also the same unit, together with the wider AFP, that came under intense criticism during the Mark Standen trial.
It is also worth remembering that Mr Lee-Rogers is not the only person to have died because he tried to expose AFP corruption. Last night I was also contacted by a young lady who has signed my petition calling for a Royal Commission into the AFP. She grew up without a father, because, he committed suicide as a result of the harassment he was subjected to by the AFP for attempting to blow the whistle on corruption within the ADF.
Then there is the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue who has been assaulted, framed and intimidated by the AFP or people purporting to be AFP officers for attempting to blow the whistle on corruption within ACT Treasury and ACT Policing, which like the APS is a command of the AFP.
As Andrew Wilkie noted:
Australia’s security agencies – principally the ADF, Australian Federal Police (AFP), intelligence services and relevant policy departments – have become increasingly politicised under the Howard Government. Direct political interference and self-censorship have shaped the agencies and skewed their outcomes to the point where they now cannot be relied upon to consistently put the public interest ahead of the Government’s political interests. (Andrew Wilkie, Member of the House of Representatives, Australian Parliament)
It’s for all of the people, who like Mr Lee-Rogers have suffered because they either sought to place integrity before self-interest, or like Schapelle Corby have become the unwanted victims of AFP corruption, that I’m seeking a Royal Commission into that Organization and it’s for these reasons that I ask people to sign the petition. You will find it by clicking this link.