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Why Australia needs a Royal Commission into the AFP

The reason I bring this post up again is that the following Facebook comment was left on this post by a former AFP officer, Mike Barclay:

Hi, Sorry to but in on your discussion… I used to work for the AFP and some guys I worked with told me to make a false statement and make false entries in my diary and day book. And lie in court!

I have shown this comment together with the details of the person who made it to a Sydney based barrister who provides assistance to Blak and Black on an ad hoc basis. Inquiries conducted by both Blak and Black and its legal representatives into the bona fides of the person who left this comment indicate that they are indeed a former AFP officer, who is currently been given the proverbial ‘run around’ by Australia’s law enforcement bureaucracy.

If AFP officers are prepared to perjure themselves on a regular basis in lieu of doing proper police work, where does this leave the average citizen who unwittingly becomes a pawn in this type of systemic corruption? More importantly, where does this leave the average citizen when the two bodies tasked with investigating allegations of corruption in the AFP (ACLEI and the Commonwealth Ombudsman) routinely refuse to conduct proper inquiries, because the outcomes might be ‘politically damaging’?

The issues of corruption in the AFP don’t stop here. The Global Corruption Report 2003 prepared by Peter Eigen, Chairman, Transparency International made the following observations:

Bias and distortion in criminal justice, governmental accountability and regulation are also in evidence in Australia.

Experts say that one of the reasons why police corruption is so widespread is an inherent ‘police culture’ that encourages unsavoury behaviour.

Abuse of power at the federal level in Australia is motivated less by financial gain than political advantage, a tendency encouraged by a politicised public service in which departmental secretaries are subject to dismissal without notice.

If open government were measured in terms of freedom of information (“FOI”) legislation or judicial review laws, Australia would be judged as open and accountable… Nevertheless, a delay in responding to FOI requests challenges that openness in practice.

What has changed in the AFP since Peter Eigen made these scathing observations? In short, the answer is nothing. As Peter Eigen observed, a delay in responding to FOI requests challenges that openness in practice. It’s these delays,combined with an ongoing process of watering down the FOI provisions, that is helping facilitate the systemic racism and corruption that defines today’s AFP. Indeed, the aforementioned AFP officer who left a comment on Blak and Black’s post Corruption and accountability: the AFP in the Asia/Pacific region went on to say that:

I have just obtained FOI docs and most of the good stuff was excluded…

If openness and transparency hinges on access to information, which it most certainly does, denying access to this information can serve no other purpose than shielding those accused of racism, corruption and incompetence.