Legislative Council: Tuesday, July 05, 2022


Operation Ironside

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (14:55): My questions are to the Attorney-General regarding Operation Ironside. Who has the minister met with in relation to considering and identifying the resources the Legal Services Commission requires to defend charges across from the Operation Ironside—

The Hon. K.J. Maher: So the legal—

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO: Required for the Legal Services Commission, required to defend charges arising from Operation Ironside. What unbudgeted funds will be needed to be invested in the Legal Services Commission to resource the needs of these proceedings? Has the minister met with the Legal Services Commission following budget estimates to identify and resolve resourcing issues?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:55): I thank the honourable member for her question. Certainly, as part of Operation Ironside, we recognise that there will be significant extra activity in our court and legal system. As part of Operation Ironside, the Australian Federal Police identified users of ANOM, and on 7 June 2021 the platform was shut down and various arrests were made.

It is alleged that the distribution of the encrypted communications network ANOM installed on android devices to those arrested in South Australia was predominantly, but not exclusively, controlled by associates of outlaw motorcycle gangs. As of June 2022, around 90 persons have been arrested and charged by SAPOL. A variety of charges have been laid, including conspiracy to murder; conspiracy to cause serious harm; participating in a criminal organisation; money laundering; arson; and trafficking in large commercial quantities of methamphetamine, fantasy, MDMA, cocaine, heroin and cannabis, amongst other offences, including particularly drug offences.

I am informed that there have been seven additional arrests since 7 June 2021, including some within recent months. I will not comment specifically on the matters that are proceeding through police investigation, but I can say that there are a number of cases where alleged offenders remain in custody or are on bail. I am advised that, in terms of the criminal justice system, there are significant resources from the police department being put towards the investigations in relation to this area. The DPP will, as these go through the system, have additional resources to cater for their needs. The court system will have additional resources to cater for their needs.

The honourable member asked particularly in relation to the Legal Services Commission. There has not been a request yet from the Legal Services Commission for additional funding in relation to Operation Ironside. I asked for advice on this not long ago. I think there are pretty strict provisions in the legislation that do not allow me to talk about who the Legal Services Commission does or doesn't represent. However, there is particular funding set aside for major needs of the Legal Services Commission in terms of big and complicated trials.

Even though I can't talk about who is or isn't represented, I am not sure it is still ascertained how many, if any, of the Operation Ironside defendants will call on the Legal Services Commission. Certainly, where there have been very major complicated trials or needs for Legal Services Commission funding, that has been discussed and talked about, but I am not aware of any requests for that happening as yet. I have met with representatives of the Legal Services Commission numerous times since becoming Attorney-General and that has not been raised with me yet, but if and when it does that is something we will consider.