The Auditor-General responded on 20 December 2023 to correspondence from Ms Zali Steggall MP dated 15 December 2023, requesting that the Auditor-General conduct a review of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, administered by the Attorney-General’s Department.

Auditor-General's response

20 December 2023

Ms Zali Steggall OAM, MP
Federal Member for Warringah
By email: zali.steggall.mp@aph.gov.au

Dear Ms Steggall

Review of the Proceeds of Crime Fund

I am writing in response to your letter dated 15 December 2023 requesting that I consider an audit into the allocation of funds available under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, administrated by the Attorney-General’s Department.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is currently developing its 2024–2025 Annual Audit Work Program (AAWP). Your request in relation to the allocation of funds available under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is under consideration as part of this process.

The AAWP reflects the ANAO’s audit strategy and informs the Parliament, government entities and the public of the planned audit coverage for the Australian Government sector. The 2024–25 AAWP is expected to be published on the ANAO website Work program | Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in early July 2024.

Yours sincerely

Grant Hehir

Auditor-General for Australia

Correspondence from Zali Steggall OAM, MP

Correspondence from Zali Steggall. A transcript of the correspondence is located on this page.
Correspondence from Zali Steggall. A transcript of the correspondence is located on this page.

Transcript of letter from Zali Steggall OAM, MP

15 December 2023

The Auditor-General
Mr Grant Hehir
Australian National Audit Office
GPO Box 707
Canberra ACT 2601

By email: grant.hehir@anao.gov.au

Review of the Proceeds of Crime Fund

Dear Auditor-General,

I am writing to request that you conduct an audit into the allocation of funds available under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, administrated by the Attorney General’s Department.

As outlined by section 298 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, confiscated proceeds of crime can be re-invested in programs for relevant purposes, including crime prevention and law enforcement. This included the Safer Communities Fund provided grants to boost the efforts of local councils and community organisations to address crime and anti-social behaviour by funding crime prevention initiatives. This fund has now ended.

Your office published an Audit Report of the Proceeds of Crime in March 2017, when the scheme was under the policy administration of the Department of Home Affairs. You concluded that “The Attorney-General’s Department has established effective processes to identify the possible use of funds from the Confiscated Assets Account.”i

You further note that “Significant funding has also been approved for non-government, community organisation and local council projects, with the New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland police forces also receiving funding.”ii

However, a machinery of government change on 1 July 2022 means the administration and management of funds from this act are now under the purview of the Attorney- General’s Department.

Since this machinery of government change, there does not appear to be any clear and publicly available way to identify how the funds have been disbursed or accounted for and how communities can continue to benefit from initiatives it can potentially fund across Australia. There have been no media releases from the current government on the fund’s use, nor is there any easily accessible way for the public, particularly community groups, to inquire about the use of the funds. This includes groups that previously received grants from the Safer Communities Fund.

I respectfully request that you conduct an audit of this program to provide an independent assessment of its administration and distribution of funds, in particular since the machinery of government change to the Attorney-General’s department in 2022.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Yours sincerely

Zali Steggall OAM, MP
Federal Member for Warringah

i The Auditor-General, ANAO Report No.43 2016–17, Performance Audit, Proceeds of Crime (https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/proceeds-crime), page 9.
ii The Auditor-General, ANAO Report No.43 2016–17, Performance Audit, Proceeds of Crime (https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/proceeds-crime), page 9.