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Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee
Outcome 1—An integrated and national response to organised crime

Senator BOLKUS —I will start with the NCA. Can we get some details of how you are intending to spend the additional Tough on Drugs strategy money? What have you programmed to do with it?

Mr Hawke —Senator, that is additional funding for a communications project, to enhance the communications project.

Senator BOLKUS —What does that mean? Communications can mean anything.

Mr Hawke —Telephones.

Senator BOLKUS —How much money are we talking about?

Mr Hawke —It is $1.7 million in this financial year, $7.3 million over the period.

Senator BOLKUS —That is a lot of telephones. What are we talking about?

Mr Hawke —Telephone interception.

Senator BOLKUS —But, from memory, there was an extra amount allocated just a few years ago in respect of telephone interception capacity.

Mr Hawke —That was to enhance some of the hardware that we had, Senator. This is additional capacity.

Senator BOLKUS —How much were we spending per annum on telephone interception before this $7.3 million?

Mr Hawke —I would have to take that on notice. I do not have it with me.

Senator BOLKUS —You say it is about close to $2 million a year for the best part of four years. Does that mean a brand-new service? Does it mean augmentation of existing services?

Mr Lamb —It will allow us to maintain a level that we currently have by way of funds that we had previously received out of the confiscated assets trust fund. Technically we already have those lines but that money will cease to exist shortly and this will allow us to maintain the level that we have had in the past.

Senator BOLKUS —What was that money worth per annum to you?

Mr Hawke —It was a lump sum, Senator, spread over a number of years. I would have to give that to you.

Senator BOLKUS —Could you tell us, under that confiscated assets trust fund, what amount of money had been allocated, when it had been allocated, when it was going to run out, how much it amounted to per annum over the period when you were drawing it, and when—this will start in 1999-2000—there will be a gap between the pre-existing program and this one—or will you just basically have a seamless transfer of funding?

Mr Lamb —It is continued.

Senator BOLKUS —Does this amount to any more per annum over and above what was being received through the confiscated assets trust fund?

Mr Lamb —No, Senator.

Senator BOLKUS —Is it less?

Mr Lamb —No, it is about the same. If you would like the exact figure we would have to take that on notice.

Senator BOLKUS —Could you do that. You have this commitment for four years. I suppose at the end of that you will have a continuing need for this sort of resource, anyway.

Mr Lamb —We will, Senator, yes.

Senator BOLKUS —What about aspects like technology upgrading? Is there any capacity in this for technology upgrading?

Mr Lamb —This is, we would argue, the most advanced system available today.

Senator BOLKUS —And it is already operating.

Mr Lamb —Yes, it is.

Senator BOLKUS —And this is just a matter of keeping it running.

Mr Lamb —Yes.

Senator BOLKUS —Thank you very much—short and sweet.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Lamb, for your appearance this morning.

[11.39 a.m.]