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Thursday, 20 June 2002
Page: 4142

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (12:03 PM) —I am representing on short notice the Attorney-General, who I understand is participating in a media conference at this point in time. I am very pleased to be able, on his behalf, to sum up. I thank honourable members for their contributions to the debate. The Attorney is a particularly diligent minister and likes personally to be present at events such as this, because he takes a very keen and close interest in all that happens in relation to the Attorney-General's portfolio. I suspect that that is broadly accepted and broadly appreciated right across the chamber amongst political parties represented in this place.

In the 2002-03 budget, the government announced that it will provide $789.3 million over four years for initiatives in the Attorney-General and Justice portfolios. Funding of $184.2 million for 2002-03 for these initiatives is included in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2002-03 and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2002-03. This major funding boost will greatly strengthen national security and the protection of Australians from terrorist attacks. It will also enhance our border protection and law enforcement capabilities and continue to encourage better use of our courts and alternative methods of dispute resolution.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the government has acted quickly to bolster Australia's counter-terrorism arrangements. Building on a range of previously announced measures, the 2002-03 budget provides new funding of $426.6 million over four years in the Attorney-General and Justice portfolios to strengthen Australia's ability to combat terrorism. In the 2002-03 budget, the government has also fully delivered on its election commitments to make Australia a safer, more secure place for all; to further strengthen the protection of our coastlines, ports and airports; to continue the fight against drugs; and to pursue innovative ways to make it easier for Australians to solve their legal problems. We will continue to build a safer, more secure Australia by providing an extra $124.2 million over four years to the Australian Federal Police. This will be used to protect Australia from transnational crime such as terrorism, people-smuggling and drug trafficking and to expand the AFP's research and development capabilities. We will provide $11 million over four years for the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence to enhance its analytical and predictive crime capability. We will also provide $1 million extra funding over four years to the Attorney-General's Department to support the highly successful National Crime Stoppers Network.

To strengthen the protection of our coastline, ports and airports, the Australian Customs Service will receive an extra $175.8 million over four years to double its National Marine Unit's surveillance and response capacity and to purchase additional container and pallet X-ray machines. Coastwatch surveillance flights monitoring Australia's approach routes will be expanded, and communication capability will be enhanced. The AFP will acquire five small boats to allow the Indonesian National Police to patrol extensive areas within the Indonesian archipelago, with particular focus on areas identified as havens for people-smuggling activities. An extra $1.5 million will be provided over four years.

To strengthen the Prime Minister's Tough on Drugs initiative, the AFP will receive $4.7 million over four years to extend the National Heroin Signature Program to include tracking the origins of cocaine and amphetamines.

To make it easier for Australians to solve their legal problems, the 2002-03 budget provides $27.2 million to fund ongoing community based counselling and mediation services, $5.3 million to continue to support community legal services in rural and regional areas and $1.3 million to continue the operation of Australian Law Online. (Extension of time granted) In addition, an extra $9.8 million will be provided to the royal commission into the failure of the HIH Insurance Group, to take into account the extension of the completion date from 30 June 2002 to 28 February 2003. The High Court of Australia will receive $900,000 to fund activities celebrating the centenary of its first sitting. On behalf of the Attorney-General, I would like to thank members who participated in this debate, and I commend the bill to the House.