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Tuesday, 4 April 2000
Page: 15203


Mr Kerr asked the Minister representing the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 12 October 1999:

(1) Further to the answer to question No. 545 (Hansard, 9 August 1999, page 632 1 ) concerning extradition proceedings regarding Mr P Foster, is the Minister able to provide further responses to parts (3) and (4) of that question; if not, why not.

(2) Has the Minister's attention been drawn to Justice Drummond's criticisms (in Foster v Minister 164 ALR 357 at paragraphs 63 and 64) ofthe advice tendered to the Minister by the Minister's Department.

(3) In light of Justice Drummond's finding that there would appear no difficulty in obtaining informed opinion from the UK Serious Fraud Office as to the punishment Mr Foster would be likely to receive if convicted in the UK of only the three extradition offences; has the Minister made such an lnqulry.

(4) If inquiries have not been made, why not, given that Justice Drummond has characterised this as causing the Minister to fail to take into account an issue the Minister was required by regulation 7 to have regard to.

(5) If inquiries have been made, what was the advice of the Serious Fraud Office.

(6) Are the offences for which Mr Foster's extradition has been sought regarded as not trivial in nature by the Minister; if so, why, given Justice Drummond's remarks at paragraph 65.

(7) What are the particulars of the three offences against Mr Foster in respect of which his extradition has been sought.

(8) Did the Minister and the Minister's Department have regard to the answers given by the UK Lord Chancellor, commented upon by Justice Drummond at paragraph 53, if not, why not.

(9) What steps will the Minister take to improve the processing of extradition applications by the Minister and by the Minister's Department to ensure that proper regard is given to the seriousness of the actual conduct alleged and offence charged in an application for extradition.


Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The Minister for Justice and Customs has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Part (3) of question No.545 concerned the period of imprisonment for which Mr Foster is liable if he is convicted of the offences for which his extradition has been sought. The answer to that question remains accurate. Each of the offences for which Mr Foster's extradition was sought carries a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment on trial upon indictment. Part (4) of the question concerned the amount of time which Mr Foster had spent in custody waiting for the extradition proceedings. Mr Foster has remained in custody since the time referred to in the answer. As at 12 October 1999, Mr Foster had spent approximately 28 months in custody in Australia. 22 months of that period had been spent while the extradition hearing and associated proceedings were being conducted.

(2) My attention has been drawn to the comments made by Justice Drummond regarding the advice tendered to me by the Attorney-General's Department. Since the honourable member's question was asked a majority of the full bench of the Federal Court (Moore and Kiefel JJ, Carr J dissenting) upheld my surrender determination of 30 March 1999 and dismissed Mr Foster's appeal from the decision of Drummond J. The majority concluded, amongst other things, that I was not required to take into account the 'likely penalty' that would be imposed on Mr Foster, were he convicted of the extradition offences, when making my surrender detennination. Mr Foster has since been granted leave to appeal to the High Court on the issue of whether I was bound to take into account the 'likely penalty' when making my surrender determination. Given that matter is before the High Court, it is not appropriate for me to say any more about this particular issue.

(3) Refer to my response to part 2 above.

(4) Refer to my response to part 2 above.

(5) Refer to my response to part 2 above.

(6) I did not regard the offences for which extradition has been sought as trivial in nature for the purposes of Regulation 7 of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Regulation*. The offences for which extradition has been sought by the United Kingdom concern alleged attempts to secure substantial amounts of credit by using false instruments. These offences have been characterised by the UK authorities as senous. I note that all three judges in the Full Federal Court found that I had suff1cient material before me to reach the conclusion that the offences were not trival.

(7) The particulars of the three offences of using a false instrument contrary to section 3 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 (UK)—as set out in the documents provided with the extradition request—are as follows:

Offence 1

Peter Clarence Foster and Christopher Williams on or about the l8th July l 995 used an instrument which was and which they knew to be false, namely a document purporting to be a Dun and Bradstreet credit report relating to Foremost Bodycare Corporation Limited with the intention of inducing an employee of Custom Pharmaceuticals Limited to accept it as genuine and by reason of so accepting it to do some act to their prejudice or that of another.

Offence 2

Peter Clarence Foster on the 7th of July 1 995 used an instrument which was and which he knew to be false namely a document purporting to be an invoice from Interhealth with the intention of inducing Jonathan Shorts to accept it is genuine and by reason of so accepting it to do some act to his prejudice or that of Gee Lawson Chemicals Limited.

Offence 3

Peter Clarence Foster and Christopher Williams on or about the 18th July 1995 used an instrument which was and which they knew to be false, namely a document purporting to be a Dun and Bradstreet credit report relating to Foremost Bodycare Corporation Limited with the intention of inducing an employee of Gee Lawson Chemicals Limited to accept it as genuine and by reason of so accepting it to do some act to their prejudice or that or another.

(8) Paragraph 53 of Justice Drummond's judgment refers to an answer given by the Lord Chancellor (UK) on 1 0 March 1999 to a Question on Notice asked in the House of Lords (UK). As Justice Drummond notes at paragraph 53 of his judgment, the Lord Chancellor's answer was before me when I made my surrender decision. I am advised that the Attorney-General's Department also had regard to the answer.

(9) I am satisfied that the current arrangements for processing extradition applications ensure that proper regard is given to the seriousness of the actual alleged conduct and offence charged in an application for extradition.