Mick Keelty

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Mick Keelty
Mick Keelty.jpg
Keelty in July 2014
Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police
In office
2 April 2001 – 2 September 2009
Preceded byMick Palmer
Succeeded byTony Negus
Personal details
Born (1954-07-13) 13 July 1954 (age 68)
Sydney, Australia

Michael Joseph Keelty AO (born 13 July 1954) is a retired Australian Police Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police from 2001 to 2009. He was also the inaugural chairperson of the Australian Crime Commission, now known as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Policing career[edit]

Keelty joined the Australian Capital Territory Police in 1974,[1] which was subsequently merged with the Commonwealth Police in 1979, to create the Australian Federal Police (AFP). He became an Assistant Commissioner of the AFP in 1995 and Deputy Commissioner in 1998. Keelty was appointed Commissioner of Police of the Australian Federal Police on 2 April 2001 for an initial term of five years.[2] He was the first Commissioner appointed from the ranks of the AFP.[1]

Seconded to the then National Crime Authority, Keelty led the investigation into the then head of the South Australia Police Drug Squad Barry Malcolm Moyse.  Keelty remained at the NCA and led the investigation into Sydney underworld figure Leonard Arthur McPherson which saw Keelty embroiled into what became known as the Lauer/Pickering affair ultimately leading to the resignation of both the then NSW Police Minister and NSW Commissioner.  The McPherson investigation uncovered significant corruption in the NSW Police partly responsible for initiating the Wood Royal Commission.

Keelty returned to the AFP and was later taken off line to work with the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department with then barrister now NSW Justice Ian Harrison SC.  Keelty returned to the AFP and became the Assistant Commissioner Crime which also oversaw an expansion of the AFP's international presence to 26 countries and 32 cities around the world.  It is in this role that Keelty's international reputation grew as the AFP was drawn into United Nations and transnational crime fighting roles.

As Commissioner, Keelty oversaw the expansion of the AFP following the September 11 attacks in the United States of America later that year, with further expansion after the 2002 Bali bombings. The organisation quadrupled in size and budget in the eight-and-a-half years he served as Commissioner, taking on new roles such as the International Deployment Group – a body of some 1,200 officers serving in Afghanistan, Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea[3] and expanding the AFP's budget from A$370 million in 2001 to A$1.3 billion in 2009.[4]

Major controversies in the AFP during his tenure included the investigation of Muhamed Haneef, an Indian-born doctor, on suspicion of involvement in the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack, that saw a protracted investigation and release without charge, with later substantial compensation for loss of income, interruption of his professional work, and emotional distress largely based on the actions of the AFP. Keelty also oversaw the AFP's involvement in the Bali Nine case, in which nine Australians were known to be carrying drugs to Indonesia, where they were arrested and jailed, with two later executed. The AFP never confirmed whether they had notified the Indonesian authorities, but said they were unable to arrest the nine before departure from Australia.[5] Keelty has defended the AFP's role in the Bali Nine saga.[6][7]

Keelty retired on 2 September 2009, on the 35th anniversary of commencing as a police officer having been instrumental in building the National Police Memorial located in Canberra. Keelty rebuilt the Australian Institute of Police Management located at North Head, Manly NSW. Along with his Indonesian counterpart, General Dai'Bactier, Keelty built an international counter-terrorism training college at Semarang, Indonesia. While Commissioner, Keelty acquired 200 hectares of land at Majura ACT for future use as a UN-approved international training centre for Australian police serving overseas which also houses the AFP forensic science centre.

Career after policing[edit]

Since his retirement from the AFP, Keelty has become an Adjunct Professor at both the Australian National University and Charles Sturt University, undertaking research into policy implications of social networking for covert operations by police and security agencies. He is a member of the International Advisory Board for the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security[8] and a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Council on Organised Crime. In February 2011, Keelty was appointed by the WA Government to lead the independent inquiry into the Perth Hills bushfires.[9] Keelty later conducted a review of the Margaret River WA bushfires.[10]

In 2013 Keelty reviewed the Queensland Police, Corrections and Emergency Services portfolio for the Queensland Government[11] and was appointed a part-time Corruption Commissioner on the QLD Crime and Corruption Commission following a review by former High Court Justice the Hon. Ian Callinan AC QC and Queensland University law academic Nicholas Aroney. Keelty was a member of the ARC funded Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics from 2014-2016 chaired by former High Court Justice the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG.

In 2013/14 Keelty was also asked to review the 2013 WA Senate Election which resulted in that state having to return to the polls following anomalies uncovered by Keelty.[12]

From 2016-2017 Keelty conducted a classified review of the security of the Australian Defence Force following terrorist attacks on military bases overseas. In July 2017, Keelty was appointed the Chair of an expert advisory group in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet involved with the protection of children and young persons.

Following the bushfires in Bega Valley of NSW, the NSW Government appointed Keelty to review the interoperability of the NSW Emergency Services portfolio. Keelty was appointed by the Federal Minister for Agriculture the Hon. David Littleproud MP to examine the governance arrangements of the Northern Basin of the Murray-Darling delivering a report in December 2019.[13]

On 1 August 2019 it was announced that a new position of Inspector-General for the Murray Darling Basin would be created and that from 1 October 2019, Keelty would act as the Interim Inspector-General as a non-statutory role for a period of 12 months, or until a statutory appointment is made.[14] In March 2020, Keelty delivered a report[15] of the impact of lower flows on state shares under the Murray-Darling Basin agreement.[16]

In January 2020 the South Australian Premier, the Hon. Steven Marshall MP announced that Keelty would review the response to the 2019/2020 devastating bushfires that impacted Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills.

Keelty has performed Chairman and Company Director roles on a number of private sector and charitable boards.

On 16 August 2020, the media reported that Keelty compromised an AFP investigation into alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. Keelty was reported to have passed information in June 2018 to Ben Roberts-Smith, that he was a figure of interest to police. Keelty said he reached out to Roberts-Smith because he was asked to do so by a security adviser who previously worked for media billionaire Kerry Stokes, who is Roberts-Smith’s employer at the Seven Network. Keelty has stated that he reached out to Roberts-Smith out of concern for Roberts-Smith's welfare. The media has reported many complaints from SAS soldiers (both former and current serving) that Roberts-Smith had allegedly participated in the execution of prisoners. The media report acknowledges that Keelty is not accused of any wrong doing and related articles were described as "florid and slightly deranged attack on the former [AFP] Commissioner of Police" by Counsel representing Roberts-Smith. The authors of the media articles are being sued for defamation.[17]

Honours and awards[edit]

OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 13 June 2011, "For distinguished service to national and international law enforcement, particularly through the establishment of bilateral agreements with corresponding overseas agencies and the integration of intelligence and law enforcement efforts within Australia".[18]
APM Australia ribbon.png Australian Police Medal (APM) 1996 "For distinguished police service".[19]
Bintang Bhayangkara Utama.gif Bintang Bhayangkara Utama 2003, Indonesia's National Police Meritorious Service Star (First Class).
Knight Grand Cross (First Class)

The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand

2011, Thailand "for assistance to the Royal Thai Police on transnational crime and terrorism".
Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang ribbon (from 1996).png Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang 2008, Singapore's Distinguished Service Order (civilian)[20]
AUS Centenary Medal ribbon.svg Centenary Medal 2001[1]
National Medal with Rosette.png National Medal with Rosette 1991[21] and 1999.[22] For 25–34 years of service.

Keelty's academic qualifications include a Masters of Public Policy and Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Education from the University of Virginia, USA; he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Fleming, J; Das, D (2004). "Commissioner Mick Keelty, Australian Federal Police". Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Policing and Security. Archived from the original on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  2. ^ "Reviews will become foundations stones for future changes". Platypus Magazine. Australian Federal Police. 11 February 2008. Archived from the original on 8 August 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  3. ^ "Annual Report 2008-09". Australian Federal Police. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  4. ^ Dobell, Graeme (8 May 2009). "Keelty: Top Cop, big bucks and geopolitics". The Interpreter. Lowy Institute for International Policy. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Bali nine executions: AFP defends its role in arrests". 4 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Mick Keelty unapologetic about fate of Bali Nine". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 February 2006.
  7. ^ "Former AFP Chief Keelty gives evidence in Scott Rush case". PM (ABC Radio). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  8. ^ "International Advisory Board". Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Policing and Security. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Media Statements - Home".
  10. ^ "Appreciating the risk" (PDF). November 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Sustaining the unsustainable" (PDF). 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Inquiry into the 2013 WA Senate Election" (PDF). 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "First Year Report Northern Basin" (PDF). December 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "A new Inspector-General for the basin | Ministers".
  15. ^ "Impact of lower inflows on state shares under Murray-Darling Basin agreement" (PDF). 31 March 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "The Water Act". 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Mitchell, Georgina (21 August 2020). "Ben Roberts-Smith case should go to trial as soon as possible, court told". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)". Australian Honours Database. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  19. ^ Australian Police Medal, 10 June 1966, It's an Honour]
  20. ^ Australian Police Chief Conferred Distinguished Service Order, Police Life Monthly, Volume 34, No.18, June 2008, Singapore Police Force, www.spf.gov.sg
  21. ^ National Medal, 15 November 1991, It's an Honour]
  22. ^ National Medal – 1st Clasp, 26 November 1999, It's an Honour]
Police appointments
Preceded by Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police
Succeeded by