The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released a statement on an investigation into the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP’s) handling of the NSW Police referral of information relating to the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor.
The Ombudsman, Michael Manthorpe (pictured) said that earlier this year his office received around 150 complaints from members of the public regarding the AFP’s decision.
“Our role is to consider complaints and to seek to influence improvements in public administration,” Mr Manthorpe said.
“Complaints made about the administrative practices and procedures of the AFP are within our jurisdiction.
“As a result of the number of complaints received, and the public interest in the issues, we conducted an investigation.”
He said his office’s investigation was based on documents provided by the AFP and discussions with them over several months.
“It is important to note that, consistent with our jurisdiction, we investigated the AFP’s actions,” Mr Manthorpe said.
“We did not evaluate or judge the actions of Mr Taylor or his office, nor those of NSW Police, as their actions are outside our jurisdiction.”
He said the investigation had now been finalised and his office had concluded that it was a lawful exercise of discretion on the part of the AFP to cease its investigation.
“We have concluded, however, that it would have been preferable for the AFP to have undertaken at least one more step prior to making a decision to cease its investigation, namely to have made direct inquiries of Mr Taylor or his office,” Mr Manthorpe said.
‘This may have helped ensure that the AFP’s assessment that further investigation would have been unreasonably resource-intensive was soundly based.”
He noted that the question of whether or not an offence occurred and, if so, by whom, remained unresolved.
The Ombudsman’s report made two recommendations, both of which were accepted by the AFP.
His 11-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.