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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE E
Program 6-MAINTENANCE OF LAW, ORDER AND SECURITY
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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE E
Program 6-MAINTENANCE OF LAW, ORDER AND SECURITY
MR A. ROSE
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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE E
(SENATE-Thursday, 5 September 1991)
- Start of Business
- Program 6-MAINTENANCE OF LAW, ORDER AND SECURITY
Program 2-BUSINESS AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
- Subprogram 2.1-Insolvency and Trustee Service, Australia
- Subprogram 2.2-Business Affairs
- Subprogram 2.3-Trade practices and consumer affairs
PROGRAM 3-COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
MR A. ROSE
- Subprogram 3.2-Law reform
- Subprogram 3.3-Censorship
- Subprogram 3.4-Provision of legal aid and family services
- MR SIDOTI
- Program 6-MAINTENANCE OF LAW, ORDER AND SECURITY
Program 4-ADMINISTRATION AND JUSTICE
- Subprogram 4.8-Courts and tribunals policy
- Subprogram 4.2-Family Court of Australia
- Subprogram 4.4-Administrative Appeals Tribunal
- Subprogram 4.5-Other tribunals
- Subprogram 4.6-Commonwealth Reporting Service
- Subprogram 4.7-Courts building services
- Subprogram 4.8-Courts and tribunals policy
Program 5-HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA
- Subprogram 5.2-High Court corporate services
- Subprogram 6.2-National Crime Authority
- Subprogram 6.6-Special Investigations Unit
- Program 7-CORPORATE SERVICES
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS
- PROGRAM 1
- Subprogram 1.1-Income support
- Subprogram 1.2-Compensation
- Subprogram 1.4-Housing assistance
- Program 2-HEALTH
Content WindowESTIMATES COMMITTEE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE E - 05/09/1991 - ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT - Program 6-MAINTENANCE OF LAW, ORDER AND SECURITY
SENATOR PANIZZA -Yesterday I asked a few questions of the Department of the Senate and I was told to refer them to the Attorney-General. I asked a question about security in the Senate which related to foreign national bodyguards carrying side-arms into the Parliament. It was suggested that I ask the question here. Are you happy for me to ask it?
SENATOR TATE -Yes.
SENATOR PANIZZA -The question I asked was: what is the criteria by which a foreign national bodyguard can carry a firearm into the Parliament? I was told that certain criteria apply. Once they are in the Parliament, who has the discretion as to whether the firearm may be used-because there are always Australian bodyguards present as well? When there are foreign guards present, how do you work out who has the discretion as to whether they may or may not be used?
SENATOR TATE -In general, the question of whether a visiting overseas dignitary can have his bodyguard or bodyguard contingent carry weapons is a matter for joint decision by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and me . We consult as to whether it might be appropriate. We take into account security and foreign affairs considerations; that is why it is a joint decision-making process.
Obviously I do not want to reveal what has happened in any particular instance: so all I can say is that, as you would imagine, our main concern is to protect the visiting dignitary. However, there is a clear starting point on my part that the close protection offered, for example, by the Australian Federal Police, or by State police if the dignitary is visiting other States, is of a very high order and is very capable. But you will understand that in relation to the visits of certain people, for various reasons, it has been considered proper to permit, under very strict conditions, the carrying of arms by the bodyguards of those dignitaries.
SENATOR PANIZZA -Can you answer my question about who has the discretion to say when they may be used? I am referring back to the Turkish Prime Minister's visit. I understand that his bodyguard, or various bodyguards, carried firearms into the Parliament. Who can tell whether the position is serious enough to use them? Does the Australian have the final say, or do they use it when they think so fit?
SENATOR TATE -As I was indicating, this permission is only granted on very rare occasions. When they are granted there is a very close consultation between our security agencies and the Australian Federal Police and the visiting dignitary's close protection personnel.
Generally speaking, it is made very clear that the visiting dignitary's bodyguard is a last barrier, a last resort, protector of the actual physical person of the visiting dignitary; the Australian Federal Police or the State police provide the protective wedge between those two or three metres out, or whatever it might be, and the dignitary. I do not know the exact figure. Obviously, I am not a professional in this field. Therefore, it is our assumption that, in everything except for the most absolutely extraordinary circumstance, Australian personnel would be taking the measures necessary to disarm a would-be assailant or to deal with somebody who threatened real violence to the dignitary.
SENATOR PANIZZA -With the Turkish Prime Minister's visit, was permission given ?
SENATOR TATE -I would prefer at this stage not to confirm or deny that on the record, but I could have a look at the question and see whether I need to get back to you if you have a particular concern.
SENATOR PANIZZA -The final question I would like to ask you, Minister, is on visiting dignitaries and guards who have a pass to walk in the front door. Dignitaries have attendants and guards with them. They are never run through the security system to check whether or not they are carrying firearms, are they?
SENATOR TATE -Are you talking about heads of government or heads of state?
SENATOR PANIZZA -I am talking about the heads of government, visiting Ministers and other such people.
SENATOR TATE -No. They would not get to first base.
SENATOR PANIZZA -People with passes do go past the front door without going through security, through the radar. Is it possible to carry a firearm past security in that way?
SENATOR TATE -I am not in charge of the security for Parliament House. If there were an arrangement whereby a person with a particular pass was entitled to come through, other than through the metal detector door, with accompanying personnel, then that would have to be a decision of the Presiding Officers, I presume. I think they would have to try to respond to your question.
There would be an overlap in so far as, if a visiting dignitary had been granted permission to have a bodyguard carrying weapons whilst in Australia, then if that visiting dignitary came to visit Parliament House and came straight through the front doors into the hall, of course, his bodyguards would be carrying weapons.
SENATOR PANIZZA -It is not the visiting dignitary I am worried about. I am talking about the people who happen to be with him.
SENATOR TATE -I will refer your question perhaps to the Presiding Officers or to the Parliament House security officer and see if he can further assist you.
SENATOR PANIZZA -While you are doing that, the other point I would like to know about is whether firearms were carried in by the Turkish delegation. You may answer me later after you have thought about it. If firearms were carried in-and my information is that they were-was permission granted because the delegation would not take no for an answer? You do not have to answer that now but, if possible, I would like to know at some other time.
SENATOR TATE -I can tell you now that no permission is granted because of any overbearing action by the foreign power concerned. Decisions are taken on the ground of security, mixed in with foreign policy considerations, but not of the sort that responds to any suggestion of blackmail, for example, `We will not visit unless you give permission'.
SENATOR COLSTON -I have some questions on the Australian Federal Police. I should say, Mr Chairman, that there might be a slight personal interest in the questions that are asked. I notice that the explanatory notes for subprogram 6.1 mention that the graduate recruitment program this year was through a consulting firm. Which consulting firm was that, how was it chosen and were any tenders put out for such consulting?
MR WHIDDETT -Burson-Marsteller is the consultancy, but I am not certain how it was selected. I will take that question on notice.
SENATOR COLSTON -I guess that we will have to take it on notice. I find that a little surprising because I did notify, through the Secretary of the Committee, that I would be asking questions in relation to recruitment.
SENATOR TATE -I want to get an answer to this. Was the Secretary notified and did the Secretary tell the AFP? Why have you not got the answers?
CHAIRMAN -You do not have an answer now. That is the main thing, I suppose. Can you get an answer, say, later in the afternoon?
MR WHIDDETT -Yes.
SENATOR COLSTON -All potential troops of the AFP under the graduate recruitment program, I understand, were required to take a medical. Is that correct?
MR WHIDDETT -I understand that that is the case.
SENATOR COLSTON -Was that medical able to be taken through their own general practitioner, through a Commonwealth medical officer or both?
MR WHIDDETT -It was through specified medical officers.
SENATOR COLSTON -What do you mean by `specified medical officers'?
MR WHIDDETT -We go through the Commonwealth medical officer and also through doctors who were specified; that is my understanding.
SENATOR COLSTON -Mr Chairman, it might be better if I come back to that question later in the day when officers who know more about this are able to be present.
CHAIRMAN -That sounds to me like a very good idea. We will notify you when we get to that program, Senator. Where will we be able to find you?
SENATOR COLSTON -I will be in the building, probably in my office. I might even be here if I find it interesting.
CHAIRMAN -Before we go through program by program, can we table derivation tables? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I have just a few preliminary questions on the introductory notes on pages 9 to 15. Are there any arrangements for regional offices to maintain some control over funds that section 35 accounts, referred to on page 9, generate? Is there some coordination or supervision of the expenditure of those funds? Obviously it is not just a free-for-all. What is the supervision of the expenditure of those funds?
MR A. ROSE -The answer is yes, there is. The arrangements, particularly those within the Legal Services Group, provide for the aggregating of all receipts under the section 35 account. There is a highly developed arrangement within the group for settling the use of the net amount reappropriated to the practice, and that is going on at the moment in Adelaide at a meeting of the Legal Services Group. Approximately four times a year the group has a meeting chaired by the Australian Government Solicitor and has submitted to it the accounts as at that date. The moneys which are the net amount reappropriated are apportioned, according to the agreement of that meeting, back to the regional office and the central office units of the Legal Services Group.
SENATOR VANSTONE -The next question starts on page 11, concerning various evaluations. Can you indicate what provision there is for people outside the Commonwealth Executive to participate in those evaluations? In other words, is it self-assessment?
MR REABURN -The evaluations are performed in accordance with the requirements of government; that means that invariably they are performed by people within the Commonwealth. That is not to say that if there were an occasion when we felt that some outside expertise was required to properly conduct the evaluation, we would not do so; but normally they are conducted by persons within the Commonwealth. That is not necessarily to say they would be conducted by people solely within the Attorney-General's Department-but they would be within the Commonwealth generally.
MR A. ROSE -Can I add to that answer? A full answer to the Senator's question would require identification of particular evaluations, in that there is not a general rule; and many of those that are listed here, and many of those that are being conducted at the moment-and this is a list within the portfolio-for example, at the core of the evaluation, do have an outside consultant being engaged, maybe oversighted by a steering committee or a body of that kind, on which is represented a range of interests, in many cases including, for example, a Department of Finance officer, or in some cases calling on, for example, the Federal Court review on page 11.
I was a member of the steering committee of that review. The working documents, draft recommendations and draft report were exposed widely throughout the legal profession and the client groups who use the Federal Court. So if one were asking about that, my answer would be yes, it does, and did, involve a wide canvassing of outside opinion and views, and the recommendations in the final report delivered to the Attorney very significantly drew on that outside opinion. In other words, the general rule is that we are very open to the involvement of outsiders. A proper answer would require me to focus on each one to give you the degree of that outside opinion.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I will refer to just a couple of them. At page 12 we have some evaluations which are either under way or planned. Who would undertake the evaluations of, for example, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission?
MR CHAPMAN -Either those evaluations are conducted internally or, in some cases, we have engaged external research firms to conduct attitudinal awareness research for us, against which we evaluate the success or otherwise of our awareness programs. But they would be mainly in house.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Also at page 12 we have the assessment of the criminal environment. Who does that?
MR REABURN -That is being done in house but with inputs from various law enforcement and regulatory bodies, most of which but not all of which are Commonwealth bodies.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Who uses the outcome of such an assessment?
MR REABURN -I would just add that in part of the assessment of the criminal environment exercise that has been completed we used the expertise of the Australian Institute of Criminology. In fact, the person who worked on the preliminary part of the project is moving over to the Department and working with us for a period of time. The product is designed to be used principally by Ministers and government.
SENATOR VANSTONE -What overlap would there be? For example, a Minister can presumably get some information from the National Crime Authority on the criminal environment in general-one would like to think so, with the money we are putting that way-and certainly some information from the Federal Police and their intelligence, and the Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and all those people. Can someone give me a fix on why we need this extra in-house assessment when we have got these other people that we are paying to do it?
SENATOR TATE -Precisely to coordinate it. That is a major thing. There is a meeting every four months or so of the law enforcement policy review committee called LEPR, which comprises the Attorney-General, me, and the heads of many Commonwealth agencies-NCA, CTRA, AFP, the Tax Office, et cetera. It is to enable Ministers to form clear ideas as to the overall picture, so that we can have a policy direction that is not dependent, say, on information coming from one agency. From such an overall picture, combined with discussions around that table-and for the purposes in large measure of discussions around that table-we get a better picture.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Just above that is mentioned a review of the National Crime Authority. Is that an in-house job, for the Department to make some assessment ?
MR REABURN -That is a reference to the parliamentary committee exercise.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I had not thought of a parliamentary committee being a part of A-G's portfolio. You state:
Major evaluations which are either underway or planned throughout the Portfolio . . .
I had some idea that this was evaluations you were doing. But fair enough.
MR A. ROSE -The mechanisms are unlimited in that sense. It may be that a parliamentary committee is the vehicle by which finally it is being done.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Near the bottom of page 14 you list an activity:
. . . More information and education being provided about services and programs available through the Portfolio . . .
That is a good thing. It is nice to know that people can find out about services that are available to them.
I do not disagree with that, but I just wonder to what extent the Department plans to extend that service into do-it-yourself kits for a whole variety of legal activities. It is one thing to advertise a service you have to pay for, it is another thing, a social justice thing, to say, `Look, for whatever reason, luck of the draw, you are not going to be able to afford our services, so this is how you do it yourself'. It is a bit like Mr Romeyko's divorce kit or something. A lot of the community legal centres say that you have to have do-it-yourself kits. Would not that be a real social justice initiative, something to sort of break out of the monopoly a bit?
MR SKEHILL -The Family Court of Australia grants a divorce but I would think it would have a very limited capacity to provide information, or what is effectively legal advice, to parties on the way in which they should transact that matter before the Court. The Trade Practices Commission has just released a booklet, I cannot precisely recall the thrust of it, which very much seeks to assist people to conduct their business in a way that does not conflict with the Act. So I think it is very much a matter of looking at a particular service and seeing whether that is one in which the Department or a portfolio agency could appropriately provide that sort of information to the community generally.
SENATOR TATE -I can give an example: over the last year or so I have been launching in Sydney and Melbourne services in relation to consumer affairs information in Greek, Chinese, Arabic, Italian and so on and so forth.
CHAIRMAN -What about Celtic?
SENATOR TATE -We missed out on the Celtic languages, I have to confess. This has been very successful, in other words using the ethnic language newspapers and radio broadcasts and so on to get messages across.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I do not dispute the value of any of that, or not at the moment anyway, because you might produce it in some obscure language that appears to be a total waste-that is why I put the rider on it that I do not at the moment dispute it. But that does not really address what I am talking about which is that, given the huge costs, not only the dollar costs but effort-type costs, for people who do not have any legal training to get themselves some help, you could play a role in doing that, rather than assisting what your colleague Senator Schacht would call the lawyers' monopoly .
SENATOR TATE -Apart from the legal aid commissions, which of course run under their own statutes, and some areas of consumer affairs, there are probably not that many areas where the Department comes into contact with the general public. It is not like social security or health services provision in that sense.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Yes, but I am not suggesting that. What I am saying is that we have got this legal system where people are going to lawyers for lots of things that really, if they had half the educational opportunities that a lot of us have had, they would not need to go to a lawyer for. One example is a guilty plea on a prescribed content of alcohol driving charge. You really do not need a lawyer to go and do that for you.
MR A. ROSE -I understand the question, but there is one fundamental limitation which I as the Government Solicitor labour under: there is a Constitution which prohibits me from doing just what you say. I cannot work for the public; it is not a head of power which the Commonwealth has. Constitutionally, I am unable to work for a member of the public. It is only in particular--
SENATOR VANSTONE -I am not suggesting that you work for them. I am suggesting that, just as we produce leaflets in all the different languages that tell people who might need some help in consumer affairs that this is where to go, we should be producing leaflets or kits to say, `Look, in a whole variety of places you might not need to go to a lawyer for this or that. You might be able to do it yourself', and putting into plain, simple English whom you would go to and which court to--
MR A. ROSE -Most areas of that legal practice are State legal practice, not Federal legal practice.
SENATOR TATE -There is one example that occurs to me. That is the child support scheme. Senator, when that first was mooted, we tried to put together, with Justice Elizabeth Evatt, a brochure, in plain terms, to assist people to work their way through that. It did not really work all that well from memory , so what we did instead was negotiate with the Department of Social Security to enable the CLCs and legal aid commissions to provide that sort of information to people. That was thought to be a better expenditure of funds to assist people to understand that particular process.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I agree that it has not worked, because I have had a flood of complaints about how that system is working, but that is another matter. On page 15, legal aid and family services, what sort of family services are you talking about?
SENATOR TATE -Marriage counselling, marriage education, mediation services.
SENATOR MACDONALD -Mr Chairman, I notice on page 14 under `Social Justice' it says that everyone has the same civil, legal and industrial rights as one of the fundamental objectives of the Government. You then go on to indicate in a broad way how the Attorney-General's Department portfolio gets involved in that. I just wonder in these tough economic times-and this is a broad question -whether any special consideration is being given to ensuring people in rural areas have the same access to justice?
SENATOR TATE -That is a very good question, Senator. For example, in relation to provision of funding to legal aid commissions and community legal centres, I have indicate that in so far as I was able to secure more funds for CLCs, for example, I would be seeking to ensure that they were not locked up in inner city traditional areas of the genesis and growth of CLCs. For example, I would see a place like Townsville being a very probable candidate for funding from this new amount of money that was secured in the last Budget. In order to ensure that those sorts of access to justice services and legal advice are available in rural and provincial Australia, and the far outer suburbs of Australia, and not just the inner cities. That is just one example we were able to address in the Budget.
SENATOR MACDONALD -You accept that in these times, and rural areas being as depressed as they are, there is a greater need for access to justice at reasonable rates. Does that sort of figure anywhere in your overall departmental planning?
SENATOR TATE -I have given one indication of where I have been very conscious of it. I am not sure that within our portfolio there would be another area specifically directed in that way. I know that in the primary industry area that Mr Kerin, just before he left that portfolio, was able to secure more money for financial counselling to rural areas to deal specifically with the consequences of the hard times on the land and in the towns dependent on those rural industries. I would say in this portfolio I cannot think of another specific example.
SENATOR MACDONALD -I am not going through a particular program, I am just inquiring generally. Minister, a lot of people seem to get assistance to make submissions to governments and to be represented at government inquiries and hearings. Does that arise out of your portfolio or from other portfolios that are particularly relevant to the matter that the inquiry or hearing is about?
SENATOR TATE -I cannot think precisely of what you are getting at?
MR A. ROSE -Essentially, outside of support by financial assistance to appear before a tribunal or a court and unless there was some legal assistance being sought, the funding to produce those submissions would come from the portfolio conducting the inquiry or supporting the inquiry, not from us.
SENATOR MACDONALD -Thank you for broad information. I have a more specific question but I will deal with that as we go through particular programs.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I refer to the Office of International Law. If it is the case that the ministerial and administrative arrangements for the Commonwealth provide that responsibility for international treaties lies with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, why is that office not located in Foreign Affairs and Trade? Does it do other things?
MR A. ROSE -Yes, it does. It has got quite a history. There is a shared responsibility between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and us. It is probably most easily explained this way: in our General Counsel Office we provide legal advice and services across a range of areas of Federal law which the Attorney does not administer. The difference in the case of the Office of International Law is that we have such a level of involvement in international legal treaty making and litigation-for example, we have two cases in the International Court of Justice at the moment, one with Nauru and one with Portugal-that there is a need for specialist counsel assistance on our part in the area of general international law, apart from any specific multilateral or bilateral treaty. Consequently we have a very small group who specialise in that international legal area and support the Solicitor-General. So it is a general counsel role.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I refer now to page 24, under the heading `Practice Management'. What was wrong with GLEAM?
MR A. ROSE -I was almost going to respond, `What was right with GLEAM?'! Essentially GLEAM, at the technology level, is 1970s technology. It is also a system which was installed at a time when all it supported was one part of our legal practice. Even now, that is all it supports. That is within the legal services group, principally our regional AGS offices and the central office elements of the Australian Government Solicitor. Its ability to provide us with broadly based technology support for practice management is highly limited. It is not an on-line interrogable system. Also, because of its initial design, it is unsuitable for extension across the whole of what is now the legal practice on a national, integrated basis.
SENATOR VANSTONE -You say that it is 1970s technology. Is that when you got it , or a term of description of how up to date it is?
MR A. ROSE -The term of description is `state of the art' as it was first installed in the early 1980s; it was designed and acquired at the end of the 1970s.
SENATOR VANSTONE -When did it become apparent that it was not up to scratch?
MR A. ROSE -In the 1986-87 period.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I just wanted a general idea. Somewhere around there did we think about getting something else?
MR A. ROSE -It coincided with a fairly major review of the way we were delivering, and considered we should be delivering, legal services to Commonwealth clients. It is the technological base that supported our proposal , since agreed to by the Government, for commercialising the legal practice. One goes hand in hand with the other. It was part of that overall review of where we were going in the next 10 years or so.
SENATOR VANSTONE -When did we decide we would shift to something such as LOIS?
MR A. ROSE -There are a series of dates. The decision on the particular contract was taken at the end of last calendar year.
SENATOR VANSTONE -At the end of 1990?
MR A. ROSE -Yes. The decision, though, to go down this particular track was taken about 18 months before that, when we first approached the market with requests for expressions of interest. In other words, we had developed the specification for what is now LOIS and had gone to the market to check whether we were or were not looking at the right sort of combination of hardware and software. It was approximately two years ago when we seriously got into the LOIS business in the planning stage.
SENATOR VANSTONE -You went to tender and then best and final offers. Is that right?
MR A. ROSE -It was a two-stage tender. We went and asked for expressions of interest on the basis of the specification; we got those expressions of interest back; we firmed up on the tender, which is quite an elaborate document; we got the responses to the tender; we did the normal tender evaluation; then we selected the short list of tenderers, with whom we conducted quite extensive contract negotiations before we finally accepted one contract.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Is that worked out on something called a prime contract arrangement, where you contract with one person to do it and he can subcontract it out?
MR A. ROSE -Yes. As it turned out, that was the way we went and there is a prime contractor. It is KPMG, as is probably shown in these documents.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Did you say that the contract was awarded at the end of 1990 ?
MR A. ROSE -Yes, that is correct.
SENATOR VANSTONE -It says here that the pilot sites in Canberra and Melbourne commenced in June 1991. Where specifically are those sites? Are they within the departmental facilities?
MR A. ROSE -Yes. The Canberra one is the Government Solicitor's office in Civic, and another is the Government Solicitor's office in Melbourne. I could check, but we have gone beyond what is said here in installations in Brisbane; West Block in Canberra-that is in the Security Division.
CHAIRMAN -What about Adelaide? I think you would be embarrassed to ask about that, Senator Vanstone!
SENATOR VANSTONE -I would be.
MR A. ROSE -We will be installing the system in all--
SENATOR VANSTONE -It is a bit like when we will get our Federal Court building , I suppose.
SENATOR TATE -It will precede that by many years.
MR A. ROSE -By the end of this financial year we will have the first-round implementation in all those AGS offices, which includes Adelaide-all the capital cities-and the central office.
SENATOR VANSTONE -As I understand it, what you have said here is that everybody is going to have one of these little jobs on the desk and is going to be able to do all these marvellous things and, presumably, talk to each other. A networking arrangement is part of this, is it not?
MR A. ROSE -Yes, electronic mail is one of the packages.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Is the networking working?
MR A. ROSE -To the extent that the network is established, it is working. There are both local area networks and wide area networks. It is a national integrated system but it is also within an office, a local area network system which has electronic mail-that is, I think, the one you are referring to-but also the ability to move documents and carry out word processing. It goes right across the full range as set out here, that is, access to databases. It is a national communication system. It is not all in place yet.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Have any doubts been raised about whether the networking is going to work?
MR A. ROSE -None at all.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Good luck!
MR A. ROSE -This is not leading-edge technology; this is proven technology.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Someone told me that they would all work individually but you were having a lot of trouble getting the network to work-getting them to speak to each other and do all the things they were promised to do. Is it going to be behind time?
MR A. ROSE -As happens with most large scale implementations, one makes an estimate.
SENATOR VANSTONE -That is the main part of it and if you do not think there is any problem with it, with the implementation--
MR A. ROSE -Not from where I am sitting, no.
SENATOR VANSTONE -If there is no problem with its capacity to network as you want it to, well and good. As I understand it, the Copyright Agency Ltd is thinking of charging per page for photostats of newspaper articles as I am informed the journalists own the copyright after it has been used that day. There is a suggestion that there should be 10c an article paid and that if CAL has its way this could be quite serious, especially if it impacts on government. I know you might say at the moment it would not because government can exempt itself, but educational institutions thought that initially in relation to photocopying and they found out how long that would last. So I am just wondering whether you have some people looking at this problem and what you can tell me about it, because I do not know much about it.
MR SKEHILL -There certainly are people looking at the issue of payment by the Government to CAL. At the moment they are negotiating with CAL a possible arrangement that might replace, if it is successfully negotiated, the current provisions of the law under which copyright owners are in certain circumstances, on which I am not expert, entitled to payment for Commonwealth use of copyrighted material.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Why would we be doing that? If we as the Commonwealth do not have to pay, why are we negotiating to pay?
MR SKEHILL -The situation is that we as the Commonwealth do have an obligation in certain circumstances to pay under existing law.
SENATOR VANSTONE -What sort of circumstances?
MR SKEHILL -I will not use the correct terminology but if, for example, a Commonwealth officer were to photocopy a book in multiple copies and seek to disseminate it within his office rather than buy multiple copies on which copyright payments clearly would be made, in the ordinary course there would be a liability. That is an extreme example. The more usual example is that there might be cause to photocopy a few pages from a book-
SENATOR VANSTONE -Yes, but what about newspaper articles?
MR SKEHILL -There is an obligation, as I understand it, on bodies such as newspaper clipping services to make payments. I think I am right in that, but I stress that I am not an expert on this.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I understand that that is what the copyright agency wants to pursue and they want to pursue it at a price of 10c a page.
MR SKEHILL -Let me say that there is negotiation being undertaken. There is no settled rate and there has been discussion. There is nothing more than that. What the Copyright Agency Ltd is proposing is a system where it, as a collecting agency, can take one payment from major government institutions and disseminate it to those people who are members of it and thus avoid the circumstance which obtains under the present law where multiple agencies might have to make multiple payments to multiple authors. So it is a channelling arrangement that is being proposed. But I stress that it is still at the negotiation stage.
SENATOR VANSTONE -How would that work for newspaper articles? If the journalist owns the copyright, you cannot possibly be suggesting that there is going to be some divvying up between individual journalists on an actual basis of copying.
MR SKEHILL -My understanding is that that is what is proposed, and that is what happens, for example, through an organisation called AMCOS, the Australian Musical Copyright Owners Society, which collects royalty payments on music and words and distributes them out to individual authors. It is a channelling arrangement.
MR A. ROSE -In addition, Senator, although it is not within this portfolio, there is a public lending right arrangement that applies to the borrowing of Australian authors' works from public libraries and so forth that works, as I recall from the distant past, on a very similar basis. It is an annual census carried out and--
SENATOR VANSTONE -I am not so much concerned about books but--
MR A. ROSE -I think they are using the PLR system as an analogy for the way that this newspaper--
SENATOR VANSTONE -Has someone made an estimate of what it would cost the Commonwealth?
MR SKEHILL -That is part of the matter that is being currently discussed with CAL.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Has someone made an assessment of what it would cost if you complied at the 10c rate?
MR SKEHILL -No.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Can you give me any idea on the costs?
MR SKEHILL -No, I am afraid I cannot, because we simply do not know, and that is part of the discussions that are taking place.
SENATOR VANSTONE -And would that include, for example, the research service of the Parliamentary Library?
MR SKEHILL -I would expect so, yes.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I am amazed that someone has not bothered to estimate--
MR A. ROSE -That is part of the difficulty we are in with the law as it is at the moment. It appears to require one counting every such article and every such use and you would appreciate, as I do, reading the volume of material that we do every day that is published in the press, that it is not possible.
SENATOR VANSTONE -It is just not on.
MR A. ROSE -So I think in that sense in the classic way the law is an ass, and we are now looking to turn it into something which might work and would not on the one hand bankrupt the Treasury but on the other hand would not do a grave injustice to those journalists who hold the copyright.
SENATOR VANSTONE -So do I take it from that that you are of the view that if the Commonwealth were to give in, so to speak, and make some sort of payment in this respect, the money would actually get back to individual journalists?
MR A. ROSE -Yes.
MR SKEHILL -I should explain that part of the discussions at the moment is focusing on a methodology for calculating the cost. That is why I said that I could not at this stage give you an estimate of the cost. There needs to be a methodology determined to calculate cost and usage. But certainly it is not a question of the Commonwealth `giving in', it is a question of the Commonwealth changing the present law to honour the existing legal obligation to the copyright owner. It is not the creation of a new obligation or a new copyright .
SENATOR VANSTONE -No. And who do you envisage would have the responsibility of divvying up whatever money there was to various journalists?
MR SKEHILL -The collecting agency, CAL, is the body with whom the discussions are currently being undertaken.
MR A. ROSE -If I can go back to the public lending right analogy, part of the negotiations back in the 1970s, from memory, when that was done, included settling what you have called the divvying-up rules that the responsible agency would follow. And so I envisage that the total negotiations will include, amongst other things, the settling of that divvyingup arrangement.
SENATOR VANSTONE -So how would you handle faxing, for example? How would someone monitor my not running this through a photostat machine but running it through a fax machine? I am sure that if I photostat a journalist's article and I give it to Senator Campbell I am using it once in that sense, but then I might stick it on a fax and send it by means of a fax stream to everybody I can possibly get it to.
MR SKEHILL -That will have to be brought to account in the methodology that is being discussed with CAL.
SENATOR VANSTONE -How many people have we got working on this? Am I in the right program for it?
MR SKEHILL -No, you are not quite in the right program-
MR A. ROSE -It does not matter, it is within the Department.
MR SKEHILL -Officers of the Business Affairs Division of the Department are working on it. I understand they are also having discussions with officers of the Department of Administrative Services. I think there may have been discussions with officers of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and no doubt there will be consultation with officers of all other departments. Whether there are other departments that have been consulted to date I am unable to tell you at this stage due to lack of knowledge on my part.
MR A. ROSE -I expect that part of the answer will be to settle on what I will call-and the group may not be calling it that-an index of usage. That is, there will be agreement on certain bases for counting which will go to produce an outcome. It will not involve as intrusive a process as the present law appears to involve of going to your fax machine and your photocopier and requiring you to maintain a log of all of these. It will build in certain assumptions which will be acceptable to all the parties involved on how one arrives at the national count for that usage. In other words, it will be a synthetic product; it will not be a primary count product.
MR SKEHILL -The other thing to say is that if this proposal were to be implemented I would expect that one of the clear conditions on which it was implemented would be that the collecting agency would be a body to which all legitimate copyright owners affected could have free access in membership terms so that payments would get to those who had a legal entitlement.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Someone told me that they are looking at collecting about $ 14m a year if they are successful.
MR SKEHILL -I have not heard that figure.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Thank you very much for telling me what you can. Is there some program or timetable of discussions or is it just drifting along or what?
MR SKEHILL -The discussions have been going on for some time. It is getting to the point where the matter should be put to government in a formal sense in the not too distant future.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Thank you very much. On page 25 you made a reference to client service agreements.
MR A. ROSE -Under user pays implementation?
SENATOR VANSTONE -Yes. Is it possible to get an example of one of those?
MR A. ROSE -The first of those agreements in a formal sense is being run at the moment with the Australian Taxation Office; so there is one example which we could provide.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Thank you very much. Is the legal training unit just Canberra based or have you got people who are a part of that spread around?
MR A. ROSE -That is national.
SENATOR VANSTONE -So it is everywhere. Some people say national when they mean it is in Canberra.
MR A. ROSE -No, we use the term `national' to mean central office and regions. It covers all the legal practice.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I would like to ask another question on what is page 26. You say in the second last dot point that one of the unit's responsibilities is to assist in setting of uniform standards for delivery of legal services by lawyers in all Commonwealth departments. What sort of standards are you talking about? Could you give me some idea of a standard that you mean? When I look further on in the book I see that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel has got standards that it can judge itself by which are percentages of getting Bills ready in the appropriate time or whatever. What sorts of standards for the delivery of legal services could these people develop or have they already developed?
MR A. ROSE -There are already standards that apply to our legal practice. That is a reference to the fact that we will be including in a number of service agreements, offers to provide continuing legal education, for example, as a standard to in-house lawyers in other departments. There are also standards of practice; for example, the standards that we follow in practising in a Federal court or tribunal in producing legal services, whether it is drafting of agreements, a range of particular services.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Can you give me an example of a standard, say, for your people practising in the Federal Court?
MR A. ROSE -A time standard; a standard that will require taking instructions in a particular way from a client.
SENATOR VANSTONE -Could you provide us with some examples? Obviously, not now.
MR A. ROSE -Yes, certainly.
SENATOR VANSTONE -In the information that is provided, could we have copies of some standards that are given--
MR A. ROSE -I could give you our quality and procedural standards, for example .
SENATOR VANSTONE -Yes. In various areas. That would be helpful. As the Chairman says, we will look at that for our cost of justice inquiry.
MR A. ROSE -There is absolutely no problem in giving you ours.
SENATOR VANSTONE -On page 31, the plain English drafting manual was meant to be finished during the winter recess. I assume that is not the one we have just had. Has it therefore been finished?
MR A. ROSE -I think you have now gone into the area of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I am trying to handle questions for myself and a couple of other people here.
SENATOR TATE -Which are proving the most difficult?
SENATOR VANSTONE -I do not think any of them are difficult. It is just going backwards and forwards.
SENATOR TATE -We have Parliamentary Counsel here, if you would like to-
SENATOR VANSTONE -Yes, please.
MR TURNBULL -To answer your question, we have a draft manual and we were hoping to finalise it during the winter recess but, unfortunately, because of all the pressure of drafting work we have not been able to do that. We have a committee working on it and the members of the committee are currently going over the draft and writing their comments. We are going to produce it and are trying to push it on as fast as we can. The problem is that drafting is first priority at the moment.
SENATOR VANSTONE -I have no further questions on that other than to note how nice it is to see a reference to the good work of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee and to see that at least a number of people are taking notice of what it does. It was formerly chaired by the Minister and is now chaired by the Chairman.
CHAIRMAN -You keep asking about that.
SENATOR TATE -Can the officers of Parliamentary Counsel retire if they wish from the Committee?
SENATOR MACDONALD -Yes. I am not sure whether there is a special program for this but are there any special programs by this Department for Aboriginal people?
MR A. ROSE -I think the answer is that we provide to Aboriginals, in the normal way, access either to employment or services in line with overall Government policies and programs. I think I am correct in saying that we do not have any special program.
SENATOR TATE -I would say there is one exception to that. It occurs to me that after the report of the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission, quite clearly, the Australian Federal Police has taken steps to ensure that its procedures, particularly down at Jervis Bay, are in accordance with the recommendations of that Commission. Moneys were sought and obtained in order to enable the construction of a police patrol down at Jervis Bay to comply with the recommendations of the Commission.
SENATOR MACDONALD -The amount of money involved would only be small, would it?
MR A. ROSE -About $400,000, if I recall, Senator.
SENATOR TATE -But that was to construct a police station also. I can get you the actual details on that, if you like, but that is the only example I can think of.
SENATOR MACDONALD -But that was, as you say, to build the whole complex, there was only one part of it that was specifically related to the Aboriginal deaths in custody recommendations.
SENATOR TATE -What happened was that there was a coincidence of a need to reconstruct the police station, which was, I am told, not up to scratch, and the report of the Royal Commission, so funds were fought for and sought and obtained which enabled us to carry out both.
SENATOR MACDONALD -Without being too specific, what component of that $400,000 would have been related to the recommendations from the Aboriginal deaths in custody inquiry?
MR REABURN -The principal relevant aspect of the recommendation is that the occupants of a cell in a police station be able to be observed, in effect, all the time. The situation in Jervis Bay was that the cells and the police station were in two separate little buildings and it was necessary to create an updated modern police station and cells contained in the one building. So in a sense it is difficult to disentangle it out and say that only a certain proportion of the funds is relevant to the recommendation from the Royal Commission, because the point about it was that, in order to satisfy the recommendation, it was necessary to have both elements in the one structure.
SENATOR MACDONALD -You were going to build a new police station anyhow?
MR REABURN -It was certainly on the AFP's list of priorities.
SENATOR MACDONALD -There would not be many or any Aborigines in the Jervis Bay area, would there?
MR REABURN -A high proportion of the local community in Jervis Bay is Aboriginal.
MR A. ROSE -The Wreck Bay community is within Jervis Bay.
SENATOR MACDONALD -I see; thank you.