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Wednesday, 14 October 1992
Page: 2105


Mr DUNCAN (Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General) (12.40 p.m.) —The Government cannot accept the amendment moved by the Opposition. Whilst the Committee did describe what is proposed in the National Crime Authority Amendment Bill (No. 2) as the second best option, as has been said, it still described it as `but still an acceptable solution'. I think the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Costello), is being a bit disingenuous in moving this. He knows quite well the framework in which the National Crime Authority operates.

  The National Crime Authority does not only operate under legislation of this Parliament; it also operates under an agreement between the Commonwealth and the various States and Territories. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that the National Crime Authority could not operate unless that were the case.

  When the National Crime Authority Act was introduced in the early 1980s, it was legislation which it had been agreed was acceptable to the governments of the Commonwealth and of the States and Territories. As I understand it, the proposed amendments are acceptable to all of the State governments, including the Liberal-National coalition governments.

  In light of that, I think the compromise that has been reached is a fair one. I do not have any personal concern about it because I think that in the circumstances this does provide adequate protection for the civil liberties of those concerned. What we are seeing here is a solution which will provide reasonable access to the Parliamentary Committee. It should provide it with proper access and it should ensure that the good relations which have now been achieved between the Committee and the NCA can continue.

  Question put:

  That the amendments (Mr Costello's) be agreed to.