Mr Lawler, who retires next week, said organised criminals were "putting themselves in an environment where their communications can't be intercepted'' which prevented both detection and investigation by police.
His call echoes that of Australia's domestic spy agency ASIO which believes access to "metadata'' - comprehensive records of when calls were made, who called who and from what location - is jeopardised the by trend of telcos towards bundling and bulk billing, along with internet phone calls.
Such data, which is now not being retained by some companies because of the cost, is vital for investigations into both terrorism and organised crime. While police need a warrant to intercept phone calls and listen to them, they do not need a warrant to examine such metadata.
A Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has examined the proposed data retention legislation, which has attracted criticism from privacy advocates, but failed to reach a definitive recommendation on the measure.
Mr Lawler said organised criminals needed to communicate to conduct their business and "that is their vulnerability.''
"What we need to do is have the community support, the government support in making sure that if we can't detect their communication because of encryption and the like because of technology, how can we enable our national security investigations or our organised crime investigations,'' he said.
"Part of that puzzle is that we will need to retain and have the telecommunications providers retain data. Data will be the new currency of law enforcement response.
"My view is it needs to be in a framework of absolute accountability and oversight, but it does need to be available and the private sector and communications providers must provide it.''
Mr Lawler, who is retiring after a 34-year career in law enforcement, assumed the role of chief executive in 2008 after rising to the rank of deputy commissioner with the Federal Police. He was intimately involved in high-profile investigations ranging from the murder of assistant commissioner Colin Winchester through to the Operation Pendennis terrorism operation.
His leadership of the ACC has seen its operations consolidate to become the key criminal intelligence gathering body for Australia's police forces, with whom it closely collaborates to combat organised crime ranging from bikie gangs, drug importation and money laundering to tax evasion.
A landmark development he has overseen is the introduction of several key intelligence reports that essentially form the blueprint for the investigation of organised criminal activity in Australia. New intelligence products - compiled using detailed and complex metadata from many sources - are also under development.
The highly classified National Criminal Target Report identifies the "who's who'' of organised crime and is underpinned by another classified report, the National Criminal Target List.
The report provides police with a concise picture of the risk posed by crime groups operating in Australia, including those based overseas. At present 67 per cent of the targets are based offshore, most focused in South-East Asia.
While Mr Lawler would not divulge further detail of either product, he said defining the biggest criminal threat facing Australia at present was "difficult.''
He said while bikie violence was an ongoing threat that "is of prime concern around the country'' there were other equally sinister and damaging threats that were not as overt.
"We are under threat from organised crime groups that will often not come to this country, create extreme damage within our country, but never come here,'' he said.
"Some are enabled through the cyber vector, some can defraud Australians of their life savings without ever having stepped foot in Australia or be exposed to Australian judicial processes.
"They are able to do that by attacking people in their own living rooms''.
While there will always be a place for traditional policing methods "there will also be occasions where there need to be different treatments'' that will be both disruptive and preventive.
"As we move forward in law enforcement we will be forced by the fiscal environment, by the sheer volume of the crime to look for efficient ways of preventing the damage occurring,'' he said.
He believed there was a need for law enforcement to constantly innovate and use new tactics and legislation was one of the "key methods'' of tackling organised crime gangs. Well aware of the damage the legal processes can cause them, the gangs and individual criminals "sought to neutralise that threat with legal challenges.''
This tactic has been no more evident than the repeated challenges to legislation to combat bikie gangs that has been taken all the way to the High Court by gangs in SA and Queensland. Individual criminals also fight high-end tactics - such as the use of the ACC's coercive hearings - in order to thwart their use.
"If they are caught they then employ often in a coordinated way around the country specific legal counsel, high end legal counsel, very expensive legal counsel to defend them and to attack the legislation and often the technical nature of what law enforcement does,'' Mr Lawler said.
"The commission has been subjected to that in a prolonged and a sustained way. We have a very large legal capacity and a lot of our resources go to defending and fighting legal challenges.''
Mr Lawler firmly believes one of the legislative mechanisms to combat organised crime is a set of uniform unexplained wealth laws to target the assets of criminals, thereby removing their motivation. The measure is currently being negotiated by the Federal and State Governments.
He says it clear at a commonwealth level the unexplained wealth laws have not been effective and he felt a national system was warranted.
"The simple fact is we have had very few, if any, unexplained wealth actions because the levels and standards and requirements make it very difficult to do so,'' he said.
"We are not dealing with a state problem, this is a national problem. The bikies, the Finks don't stay just in SA, they don't just stay in Australia. That tells you need a national response.
"The aim has to be to remove that assets from the organised criminals, to take their money away and that way you will disrupt them and put them out of business.
"I hope the ministers can settle that, it will be good for Australia.''
news.com.au 11 Oct 2013
Here are some details of the businesses known as the Australia's police force taken from abr.business.gov.au :
Entity Name: AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
ABN: 17 864 931 143
Main Business Location: ACT 2600
Trading Name: AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE, ASIA PACIFIC GROUP, Australian Protective Service, AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE, AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF POLICE MANAGEMENT
Entity Name: DEPT OF POLICE & EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (TAS)
ABN: 19 173 586 474
Main Business Location: TAS 7000
Trading Name: TASMANIA POLICE
Entity Name: NSW POLICE FORCE
ABN: 43 408 613 180
Main Business Location: NSW 2150
Trading Name: NSW POLICE FORCE, NSW POLICE, NSW POLICE DEPARTMENT, NSW POLICE SERVICE
Entity Name: POLICE DEPARTMENT (VIC)
ABN: 63 446 481 493
Main Business Location: VIC 3008
Trading Name: VICTORIA POLICE
Entity Name: QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE
ABN: 29 409 225 509
Main Business Location: QLD 4000
Trading Name: QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE
Entity Name: SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE
ABN: 93 799 021 552
Main Business Location: SA 5000
Trading Name: SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POLICE, Commissioner of Police, SAPES Games, SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE, South Australia Police & Emergency Services Games, SA Police, SAPOL
Entity Name: WESTERN AUSTRALIA POLICE
ABN: 91 724 684 688
Main Business Location: WA 6004
Trading Name: Western Australian Police