2007 Inaugural Ray Whitrod Oration

Commissioner Mick Keelty APM

Adelaide Convention Centre
Hall B
North Terrace
Adelaide

Monday 24 September 2007
6.00pm to 7.30pm

Thank you Professor Stenning for that very warm introduction.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to be here with you in Adelaide this evening.

From the outset I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Kuarna people, and acknowledge their Elders both past and present and their connections with this land.

It's my great honour to have been invited to give the inaugural Ray Whitrod Oration.

I'd like to acknowledge the presence in the audience tonight of Ray's daughter, Ruth Blackburn and his son, Ian Whitrod. It's great to see them both here tonight.

As an organisation that has experienced significant growth in recent years, the AFP understands the need to evolve our thinking and approach to law enforcement if we're to meet future policing demands.

Tonight I'll talk about the face of the contemporary policing environment and the challenges and issues faced by the AFP in the new national security environment we all live in since September 11, 2001. Finally I'll touch on the increasing importance of evidence versus intelligence in this rapidly evolving policing landscape.

Eighteen months into my second term as Commissioner, I can tell you without a hint of understatement that it's an interesting time to be AFP Commissioner. In that regard I feel a certain kinship with Ray Whitrod. He too knew what it was to work in interesting times.

Ray joined the South Australian Police Force as a cadet in February 1934. He was just a couple of months shy of his 19th birthday.

In an interview for the Australian Biography project in 2000, Ray was asked to cast his memory back to his teenage years of the 1930s, and try to recall what he had thought it meant to be a policeman.

He responded:

“…it seemed to me that, that was a sort of…reasonable life helping other people, and that's what policemen were paid to do, to help other people and were paid reasonable salaries and I thought that was what being a policeman meant.” 1

Ray would spend four decades in law enforcement, through the good times and the bad.

When I think about the many achievements in Ray Whitrod's life and career, there is one word that continually comes to me; one word I just can't go past to describe him. That word is ‘integrity'.

Ray abhorred corruption, so much so that he resigned as Commissioner of Queensland Police, after six years at the helm, in protest at the endemic corruption. A courageous move, given the political and other forces he was up against, but a move that was later vindicated through the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

In many ways, Ray was ahead of his time as he worked to build and maintain a modern police force. I particularly identify with the great importance he placed in the value of ongoing education, both for members of his force and for himself personally.

In his memoirs, ‘Before I Sleep', Ray recounts a time very early in his tenure as Commissioner of the Queensland Police Force where he discovered that officers sitting the written exam component of their application for promotion were being slipped the exam papers the night before, because that's when they were delivered to the police station.

It should surprise nobody to learn the pass rate across the Force at that time was 90 per cent. I wonder whether the 10 percent who failed did so because they had the integrity not to look at the exam paper beforehand?

Ray swiftly implemented change, including introducing an independent examiners' panel and a different syllabus for each rank. He also ordered that all examination papers were to be delivered to a central examination centre on the morning of the exam. The pass rate fell to a more realistic 50 per cent.

Ray also noticed from reading prosecution police briefs that a problem with written English was developing. In those days, only a few members of the Force had actually obtained an Intermediate level certificate. Ray organised for the education department to provide officers with classes in literacy and basic arithmetic. As an inducement to attend classes, he offered an extra week's leave for every subject they sat. The police union objected with such vehemence that they by-passed both Ray and the Police Minister, Max Hodges, and complained directly to the Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen. The Premier, himself a former Police Minister, endorsed the union's stand and he publicly declared that “the Queensland people did not require their police to be Rhodes scholars.” 2

Ray wouldn't be deterred. He encouraged his deputies to study part-time for university degrees, and he offered them unfailing support and encouragement.

In the late 1950s, Ray himself began studying part-time for a Bachelor of Economics degree from the ANU, which was conferred on him in 1963. In 1972 he was awarded a Masters of Arts in Sociology from the ANU. As if that wasn't achievement enough, Ray also studied for a Diploma in Criminology from the University of Cambridge and in 1993 he began a PhD in Psychology.

Like Ray, I believe education is the cornerstone of a robust, modern and adaptable police force and we take every opportunity to encourage AFP members to further their own education.

I was recently re-reading Ray's memoirs and it struck me that each new recruit who walks through the doors of our college in Canberra could further his or her own education, particularly in the early stages of their police careers, by reading about the life and work of Ray Whitrod.

As the future unfolds the demands on policing will necessarily change. It's difficult to imagine what Australia's policing requirements will be in just 15 years from now.

Fifteen years ago nobody could have predicted the incredible information technology revolution we have experienced.

Criminals devote considerable time and effort to reviewing the methods they use to commit crimes. They are continually looking for new markets and ways to minimise the risk of being exposed. With the advent of the internet, criminals quickly discovered that computer-based online technology provided that avenue.

We should not underestimate the determination of criminals to gather intelligence.  Today many of them use our open court system to study methodologies used by the police and then share that intelligence.  It is a real problem for us.

Globalisation and rapid advancements in technology provide criminals with the tools and the opportunity to commit age-old crimes, such as fraud, in modern ways.

Today, cybercrime is a great challenge for law enforcement.

The types of e-crimes we are seeing today include fraud, cyberstalking, phishing, botnet attacks, paedophilia, hacking, drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion and terrorism.

In fact, we ought not be surprised by this because the aim of every criminal is to commit the crime undetected – so the more anonymity we offer as a community, the more it will be exploited.

Identity fraud can have a direct impact on the victim, in the form of loss of savings, but it can also have an indirect financial impact, including damage to a person's credit rating.

International statistics show the risk-reward trade-off as being more favourable for the perpetrators of identity fraud when compared to other crimes. 3

Aside from the obvious financial impact, identity fraud can have deep psychological impacts. It invades a person's privacy and creates trauma and stress, in a similar way that a robbery of someone's home does.

Identity fraud can have devastating implications for national security. The evidence shows organised crime groups have begun to embrace identity fraud as a means of committing acts of terrorism. The September 11 hijackers, for example, used fictitious social security numbers, false identities and fraudulent identity documents.

The internet has changed all our lives. In many ways, it is one of the drivers of globalisation.

There are now many online communities – known as social networking sites - where people in the real world can log on and interact with other members. One example of this type of online community is ‘Second Life'. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world which currently has over nine million virtual “residents”. It has its own currency, called the ‘Linden dollar', which can be converted into US dollars. “Residents” create online personas called avatars.

I'm the first to admit the positives benefits the internet has brought to society. They are numerous and don't require elaboration here. Second Life and other social networking sites like it can be a lot of fun; they can even be environments of learning and social development, especially for our ageing population.  But they can also be a haven for those with criminal intentions.

Social networking sites have been used to facilitate and commit crimes in the real world. Members can “hide” in online rooms to plan crimes they intend to commit later in the real world.

Earlier this year a “virtual rape” was committed in Second Life, sparking furious debate in the media and in online fora about whether virtual rape is a crime.

I have no doubt that online sexual activity forced onto another person is real. There is no doubt it is traumatic for the recipient.

I also have no doubt that an adult who subjects a child to sexual words, images or suggestions on the internet is preying on their mental and emotional state in a way that is sexual in its nature. It's irrelevant that they may never meet that child in person. It is, of course, a crime to attempt to engage sexually with a minor, regardless of how that attempt is made.

Two weeks ago the Australian Government announced the formation of a Consultative Working Group, tasked with addressing the risk of social networking sites being used by paedophiles and sex offenders to contact and groom children. Membership of the working group is broad, with representatives such as the ourselves; the Attorney-General's Department; CrimTrac; the Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts; as well as MySpace; Microsoft; the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect; and representatives of the States and Territories.

This is an important step towards tackling the problem. The AFP's membership of the Consultative Working Group will allow us to develop relationships with the internet service providers who host these sites as well as the community and social services organisations who deal with the consequences of online child sexual abuse on a daily basis.  We hope to find a collaborative solution and work to implement it and ensure its success.

I'd like to briefly touch on one other modern challenge for law enforcement. It's a challenge not just for the AFP and our State and Territory colleagues, but for law enforcement the world over. It has the potential to wreak havoc, cause more deaths and pose national security issues like we've never seen before.

That challenge is the impact of environmental change.

The world's leading climate scientists believe that the century unfolding before us will bring a prolonged period of global warming.

It is anticipated the world will experience severe extremes in weather patterns – from rising global temperatures to rising sea levels.

We could see a catastrophic decline in the availability of fresh water. Crops could fail, disease could be rampant and flooding might be so frequent that people – en masse – would be on the move.

Even if only some and not all of this occurs, climate change is going to be the security issue of the 21st century.

It's not difficult to see the policing implications that might arise in the not-too-distant future.

By 2050, temperature is predicted to rise by three degrees Celsius, and sea levels to rise by over half a metre.

If that alone doesn't alarm you, think about this.

Just one decade earlier, that is in 2040, in China alone, there is a great risk that environmental change could decrease the land available to produce grains and rice by as much as 30 per cent. Admittedly, that's a worst case scenario, but for China to feed its predicted 2030 population it needs to increase its food production by about 50 per cent above today's levels. 4 How does it achieve this if its available land is dramatically shrinking and millions of people are on the move because of land and water?

If we are to believe some of the expect speculation, the mass displacement of people, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, could create a great deal of social uncertainty and unrest in the region. In their millions, people could begin to look for new land, and they'll cross oceans and borders to do it.

Existing cultural tensions may be exacerbated as large numbers of people undertake forced migration.

The potential security issues are enormous and should not be underestimated. But of course, not even the experts agree, so for us at the moment we need to be monitoring closely the development, both academic and actual, over the course of the next decade.

Before I move on, I'd like to briefly touch on the global response to dealing with carbon emissions. There is much debate about the efficacy of the Kyoto Agreement. I'm not going to comment on whether Australia should commit to the Agreement or not, but I will say that I think there is potential for police to play a role as the need for environmental regulation increases.

Any carbon trading scheme Australia is a party to will require regulation. That should be taken as a given. In fact, not only will it require regulation but I am certain it will also require investigation if corruption or fraud begin to undermine the market.

I think police will begin to play a role in this sooner rather than later. After all, it was not that long ago that the Singapore Police were investigating the Barings Bank fraud in the Futures and Derivatives Markets. Carbon trading could fall into the similar futures and derivative trading schemes.

It was only two weeks ago that we commemorated the sixth anniversary of September 11 and we continue to be haunted by the images of that day.

Over the past six years it has been easy, perhaps even understandable, to say that the world was irrevocably changed on September 11, 2001.

But has it really changed? And if it has, how has it changed?

For governments the world over, political priorities were transformed by September 11. Health, education and the economy remain important issues, but domestic security has been elevated to a level of importance we've never experienced before.

In the wake of September 11, we've seen legislative as well as psychological changes

Our mindset has changed.

Despite the horror and the human toll of that day, has Australian life really changed fundamentally?

The answer is yes and no.

On an individual level, your life probably seems the same as it ever was.

In part, that's because Australians have always been good at facing challenges. From Federation to the Great Depression and through two World Wars, Australians have confronted the monumental challenges of their times with determination and good humour.

We get on with it, you could say.

Nonetheless, something has changed about the world and Australia's place in it.

The way States deal with each other has changed in a fundamental way. The relationships between countries and their need to secure their territory have changed.

Whilst this has meant the AFP has moved into new, global, law enforcement territory, it has also meant a shift in the very way we do business.

This new environment has brought with it changes to both the political and cultural spheres in which police operate.

The AFP now works in a foreign policy space that was unheard of a decade ago. For example, we've initiated the establishment of the International Deployment Group (IDG) in February 2004. The IDG contributes to regional stability through offshore law enforcement initiatives and participating in capacity building programmes.

At the AFP we have a long-standing commitment to working alongside our overseas neighbours to achieve long-term law enforcement results, and the IDG has played a vital role in meeting ongoing regional security requirements.

In September 2003, former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, addressed the General Assembly and warned that the United Nations “had reached a fork in the road.” 5 He warned Member States that the time had come to meet the challenges of the new security environment or risk history making the decisions for them.

What the attack on the World Trade Centre highlighted in graphic detail is that a terrorist attack in New York City has consequences for the rest of the world.

When one State's capacity to tackle transnational crimes, such as terrorism and organised crime, is eroded, the link in the global chain is weakened.

The world is such today that every country needs international cooperation for security to prevail.

On the domestic front, it is important that community trust be maintained. The community delivers intelligence which is imperative for police to prevent and solve crimes. The National Security Hotline, despite criticisms at the time of it's creation, is one of the most important tools that we've been using to achieve this and it has been a resounding success.

There is not one terrorism investigation that we've conducted in this country that hasn't at one stage or another been reported through the hotline.

Building relationships is an important part of the work we do at the AFP.

It's important for us to work with the media.

It's important for us to share information.

Sometimes, for various operational reasons, it is just as important not to share information with the media and the Australian public.

At least, initially.

When it comes to even the smallest possibility of jeopardising an investigation or a case before the courts, I will always, unapologetically, err on the side of less information than more information being placed in the public domain.

Sometimes, through circumstances out of our control, we're pushed into the public domain to defend our position - as was seen during the recent Haneef affair when the AFP's ‘Record of Interview' was made public. The leaking of information by the defence and the misinformation – such as claims that the Q1 Building on the Gold Coast was a target – had to be corrected by the AFP.

As Dr Haneef became a worldwide news story, the AFP became embroiled in circumstances where Dr Haneef's lawyers conducted his defense in the media.

Dr Haneef's barrister leaked the transcript of the AFP's Record of Interview with Dr Haneef to the media. This put the AFP in a compromising and difficult position and was like nothing I have witnessed before. So extraordinary was this action that I've raised the matter with the Queensland Legal Services Commission.

A fundamental tenet of our judicial system is the concept of a fair trial. This cannot be achieved when matters are first heard in the court of public opinion before being appropriately tested in a court of law.

During a criminal justice process, individuals are entitled to the presumption of innocence. Dr Haneef was accorded this right by the AFP at all times. In fact, I stated 12 times in six separate media interviews prior to Dr Haneef being deported that the presumption of innocence must be maintained.

The AFP officers and their jurisdictional partners involved in this investigation acted professionally and with appropriate judicial oversight. Despite a great deal of speculation and inaccurate commentary, the investigation into Dr Haneef and his activities, and the conduct of AFP members, was appropriate.

The media, of course, have an important role to play in a liberal democracy but had Dr Haneef ever faced a criminal court here, the question arises as to whether or not he could ever have received a fair trial. This is a dangerous precedent.

As I have already said, the Australian public expects the AFP to ensure public safety and security. They expect us to prevent terrorists from pursuing their goals on Australian soil.

Operation Pendennis, a large-scale counter-terrorism operation involving the AFP, Victoria Police, NSW Police and ASIO, has so far resulted in 23 people being committed to stand trial in Sydney and Melbourne for serious terrorism offences.

As unsavoury as it is to consider, the terrorists have already had a partial win. The impact of September 11, 2001, and the thwarted Heathrow attacks of 2006 continue. The fear they created lives on and is demonstrated by the changes we have already had to make in our lives such as in air travel. There will undoubtedly be more change to come.

How much we can change and still have the same quality of life is a question we are all going to have to answer in time.

The role of police is to protect that quality of life to the best of our abilities and it's because of people like Ray Whitrod, who stood up for the independence of the police from the government of the day – a legacy that continues to this day – that we are able to do it.

Today we operate in an environment that is more complex and unpredictable than at any other time in AFP history. The rise of terrorism and its implications for international security have placed the AFP in a policing environment that is as much about crime prevention and deterrence as it is about arrests and successful prosecutions.

The post-September 11 era of heightened security in which we now live has prevention as its driving force.

In Ray's day police we're focused on the investigation of crimes after they had been committed. Statements would be sought from witnesses, forensic evidence would be collected and police would charge an offender.

Modern policing has taken a crime prevention focus. The Australian public has an expectation that the AFP will prevent crimes from happening, not only make arrests after they have been committed. This isn't an unreasonable expectation.

If someone were to ask whether the police could stop all armed robberies in Australia within, say, 12 months, I'd tell them it's not possible. There is just no way I could ever guarantee the prevention of all armed robbery in Australia.

But what the Australian public is asking us to do is stop a terrorist attack from happening. It's a challenge of immense proportions, requiring us to change the very way we work; how we gather intelligence for evidence; how we decipher information and determine what is, in fact, “intelligence”.

In some ways, the AFP has gone full circle and returned to the first of Sir Robert Peel's ‘Nine Principles of Policing', which states: “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.” 6 Sir Robert wrote his Nine Principles in the mid-19th century, but in a post-September 11 world it remains as important as it was over 150 years ago.

We need laws that will enable us to succeed in a crime prevention environment.

The courts, too, are going to need to change the way they view evidence, witnesses and forensics. In a prevention environment the courts will be dealing with larger numbers of inchoate crimes, or crimes that are prevented at a very embryonic stage of execution.  Sentencing in this environment could become problematic, at least in the early stages.

In this environment of preventative law enforcement we would likely see fewer prosecutions for less serious crimes because these, thankfully, have been prevented from happening.

There will be some traditionalists who will no doubt scoff at my predictions.  But with 29 people charged with a variety of terrorism offences in this country as well as our experience gathered during investigations in Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere – we are neither out of our depth nor taking a ‘Keystone Cops' approach.  We are serious in protecting Australians and we are just as serious about the integrity of what we do. 

I am not advocating a full scale change to the criminal justice system, just pointing to some changes that could be made in attitude and culture as well as policy rather than abandoning our western Liberal Democratic systems which of course is what the terrorists are aiming to do.

Traditionally, government, media and the Australian public have measured the AFP's success on the basis of the number of successful prosecutions we achieve or the number of crimes we solve.

It's time to determine new measures of success. Measures that recognise success in the prevention of crime.

I'll leave it there for now and I'm happy to take a few questions, but before I do I'd like to read you part of the Citation for An Honorary Degree conferred on Raymond Wells Whitrod by the ANU on 25 August 1997:

It read:

“Behind Ray Whitrod's commitment to high professional standards, to justice and to equity are strong and compassionate values stemming from his Christian faith. Throughout his career, and in particular during the difficult period in Queensland, Ray Whitrod had the unwavering support of his wife, Mavis.” 7

The legacy of Ray and Mavis Whitrod, and the example they set for all police officers will endure for a long time to come.

It is not easy being married or partnered to a police officer. My wife Sue can attest to that. But Ray and Mavis showed how to make the good times so much better, and the tough times that much more easy to bear.

Thank you.


1 Online transcript of full video interview. Accessed 18.8.2007

2 Ray Whitrod, “Before I sleep. Memoirs of a Modern Police Commissioner.” University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld. p160

3 “Identity Fraud in Australia: An evaluation of its nature, cost and extent” Suresh Cuganesan and David Lacey, SIRCA, September 2003

4 Address by Professor Alan Dupont to the AFP Executive Retreat, 29 May 2007.

5 United Nations ‘Report of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change': “A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility”, 2004

6 Sir Robert Peel, 1788 – 1855. In 1855, Peel proposed a Bill, that became law, entitled ‘Bill for Improving the Police in and near the Metropolis', which became the basis for modern policing.

7 Citation for an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, Raymond Wells Whitrod. Australian National University. 25 August 1997.