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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2284


Senator SPINDLER (8.32 p.m.) —The load on magistrates is simply not borne out—700 warrants in a state such as New South Wales to be issued by magistrates is not a lot. I wonder whether the minister could enlighten us as to how many magistrates there are in New South Wales. I am not aware of the number, but I am sure we could find enough magistrates to sign 10 warrants a day if the need arose. On the point that we are making a suggestion to the states, so we should. This is the federal government. The federal government and this parliament have the obligation to provide a lead to the states, to instigate improvements and to seek agreement.

  If this amendment were passed, and if states had to use magistrates for warrants issued under Commonwealth law, then they might well decide that it would be easier to move ahead with the times and provide sufficient security for people by ensuring that properly qualified legal officers issued warrants. It is an important responsibility. By shrinking back and saying that we cannot put this load on the states, we are giving up an important opportunity to improve the legal system on a national basis.