Outgoing Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has backed his officers' actions in raiding media organisations last month but admitted police and government needed to work together to balance press freedom and the law.
He denied his departure had anything to do with the controversy, saying the "issues of the day" had no bearing on his decision to leave the role after five years.
Meanwhile speculation continues to rage over possible replacements for Mr Colvin and whether the departing commissioner was too ambitious in his reform agenda.
"I am comfortable with the AFP and police enforcing the law as prescribed by the Parliament," Mr Colvin said on the ABC's 7.30 program on Tuesday night.
"I fundamentally agree that our democracy relies on a free press. It relies on the ability for people to come forward with information. There are mechanisms in law for people to do that now.
"But we also need to do our job, which is to enforce the laws that the Parliament has seen fit to pass.
"I think the right for the press to report those matters is fundamentally important and we have to balance those rights ... We will continue working with government on that."
When asked to respond to ABC chair Ita Buttrose's claims the raids had been designed to intimidate and deter public interest journalism, Mr Colvin said: "I respect her opinion, but I don't agree.
"I don't believe this was intimidation. I don't believe this is what we were attempting to do," he said.
The AFP raided the ABC's Sydney headquarters on June 5 over the broadcaster's reports based on leaked defence documents that exposed alleged misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan.
The day before, it raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst over a story which included top-secret details about the government's proposal to give Australia's cyber spies unprecedented powers.
Mr Colvin denied the timing of the raids were related to the May federal election.
"These are matters that are longstanding. We follow an investigative process that is a normal investigative process," he said. "It was purely a resource question for us when we had the right skill set available."
He said no government minister had been consulted about the raids. "This is police business and we don't consult with ministers before we do that," he said.
'Too much change, too quickly'
The president of the AFP's industrial arm has claimed the organisation underwent "too much change, too quickly" under Mr Colvin's leadership.
Mr Colvin took over the role in 2014 and instigated significant cultural reforms after the explosive 2016 Broderick report, which uncovered rampant sexual abuse and bullying within the AFP.
Mr Colvin committed to implementing all 24 recommendations of the report, saying at the time "there are workplace practices which are unacceptable and things must change".
The organisation's culture also came under the spotlight during a spate of suicides between 2017 and 2018.
AFP Association president Angela Smith said the reforms were likely "not as well received as the commissioner would have liked".
"I think there was probably too much change, too quickly," Ms Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The implementation of some things possibly could've been done better ... change is really difficult to instigate because it upsets a lot of people."
Former NSW Crime Commission investigator turned academic Michael Kennedy said attempting to implement serious cultural change at a policing organisation would win you "serious allies" and "serious enemies".
"I think the problem with Colvin is that he's cut from a completely different piece of cloth to all of his predecessors," the criminology lecturer said.
"Anyone who came along who was going to challenge the status quo, which he has done, was going to get tired after five years."
Mr Colvin described the decision to leave the force after a 30-year career as the hardest call of his career, but believed it to be the right one.
The race to fill Mr Colvin's role has been under way for several months, with several internal and external candidates understood to be vying for the role.
Mr Colvin's deputy commissioner Neil Gaughan has acted in the role of commissioner recently, defending the AFP from over the media raids.
Along with Mr Gaughan, former NSW deputy commissioners Catherine Burn and Nick Kaldas have been mentioned as possible contenders.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission head Michael Phelan, Justine Saunders, the deputy head of the Australian Border Force, and AFP deputy commissioner Leanne Close have also been named as potential replacements.
Ms Burn, who left the NSW Police Force for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2018, has been named by some as a potential frontrunner, though others say it's too early to know.
"Is it time for a woman to be appointed commissioner of the AFP? It will, of course, come down to who applies and who is the best person for the job," Ms Smith said.
While an external candidate wouldn't have an understanding of the AFP, Ms Smith said they could bring a new perspective to the role.
"There aren't the alliances that could possibly stay or sit or hang around an internal candidate," she added.
"It can't be someone's mate, you know or 'someone's popped up, he's a friend of the Prime Minister' or whatever, we can't put up with that sort of rubbish.
"The negative of having an internal is that they are, I guess, part of that old regime that a lot of the workforce wants to move on from."
- SMH/The Age