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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 4334


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (2:47 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, Senator Wong. I refer to the multiple reports aired on Today Tonight regarding the government’s unwillingness to bring Guy Campos, a self-confessed child beater and alleged war criminal and murderer, to justice for crimes committed against the East Timorese. Can the government confirm that, one year into a Federal Police investigation, Guy Campos is still living freely in Australia, no less than two kilometres away from the family of the boy whom he bashed to death, with the government’s full knowledge and consent?


Senator Chris Evans —Mr President, I rise on a point of order concerning the question. I am not sure whether Senator Fielding misread the question, but the implication was that someone was bashed to death with the government’s consent. If that is the case, it seems to me that the question is out of order.


The PRESIDENT —The question will stand, Senator Fielding. I will review the Hansard to see what was actually in the question. One of the difficulties, and I have said this before, is that there is a lot of noise when people are asking their questions. In this situation where I have been asked for a ruling on a question, it is very hard to give a ruling because I could not hear some of the material.


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I have to say, Senator, that I will give you the benefit of the doubt in terms of the question. Some very serious allegations have been made in relation to Mr Guy Campos. Obviously, the government treats allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity extremely seriously. It is the case that there has been public discussion of Mr Campos, who is alleged to have committed war crimes in East Timor during the 1990s. This is in the Minister for Home Affairs’ portfolio. I am advised that the AFP is currently investigating allegations made against Mr Campos.

Generally in relation to the allegation of war crimes, whether in relation to Mr Campos or not, there are often complex legal and factual issues that need to be carefully considered by our law enforcement agencies. Investigation and prosecution decisions are clearly matters for the AFP and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, as independent statutory authorities. Therefore, some of the matters to which I think Senator Fielding referred may well be matters that are within the purview of the Australian Federal Police or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.


Senator FIELDING —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I was led to believe that it is a fact that the Federal Police have now concluded their investigation into Guy Campos’s crimes and that a brief of evidence in relation to Mr Campos and his alleged offences under the Crimes (Torture) Act 1988 and the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 has now been handed to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. If this is so, can the minister explain why no action has been taken to bring this man to justice?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I will see if I can provide to you anything further than that which I have read out. I again say to you that, if it is the case that the AFP investigation is concluded and the matter is with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, that is as it should be. Those are decisions for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. These are not decisions that are made at a political level and I would suggest that what you have outlined in your supplementary is in fact precisely the sort of procedure that should be followed. I will make inquiries of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and see if there is anything further I can give you. As I said, the advice I have before me is that the AFP is currently investigating the allegations. I will take advice as to whether that investigation has concluded or if anything further can be said on that.


Senator FIELDING —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Federal Police can move so swiftly for the Prime Minister and the Labor Party on an issue about an email and a ute, why has it taken so long for the government to fully investigate these crimes and move swiftly? Why is it still dragging its feet a year on in prosecuting Guy Campos for his self-confessed crimes?

Honourable senators interjecting—


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I invite Senator Fielding to carefully consider some of the allegations he made in that supplementary question. They are not allegations that are normally the sorts of things he would bring to this chamber, and I would suggest—


The PRESIDENT —Senator Wong, resume your seat. Senator Fielding is entitled to hear the answer. There are interjections from both sides across the chamber. It is completely disorderly. Senator Wong, continue your answer.


Senator WONG —If the inference is inappropriate action or interference in our justice system by the government, I suggest to Senator Fielding that it is a most inappropriate inference. I suggest to Senator Fielding in relation to the last part of his question, which was an assertion that the government has ‘dragged its feet’—I think those were the words used; if I am wrong I stand to be corrected—that I again refer to my answer to the first supplementary question, relating to how our justice system works and the decisions that should be made by AFP and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.