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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 291

Mr SNOW(6.12) —The aim of the Australian Protective Service Bill is to provide statutory recognition to the Australian Protective Service and its officers and to clarify its legal powers. The Australian Protective Service was created in 1984 and has become a new and effective body for Commonwealth security arrangements. Since its creation the Service has proven its capability in providing a wide range of security protection, such as property protection, custodial duties for immigration detention centres and routine security duties at the official residences of the Prime Minister and the Governor-General. It has also met ad hoc security requirements for guarding visiting foreign VIPs, art treasures and so on where the risk level does not justify a police presence.

I hope that the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Young), will respond to the suggestion of the honourable member for O'Connor (Mr Tuckey) about considering the private sector. I say to the Minister that I consider the suggestion of private sector involvement to be highly unsatisfactory. There are some areas where the private sector does not work. Recently I have heard patients or their children involved in private nursing homes deploring the fact that private nursing homes are not run by government because they feel that government run or even voluntarily run nursing homes are operated far more effectively.

As far as private protective services are concerned, I guess that they have a place in our community, but not in the high security areas of government such as Family Courts, illegal immigration detention centres, the Department of Defence, the Parliament or the Prime Minister's Lodge. I believe that there would be less control on the standards and procedures of the service and less evenness in the sort of control which the honourable member for O'Connor mentioned. There would be less likelihood of cost cutting when the Government ran the service. It would not be good if a private service reduced the level of service because of financial pressures to the extent that it was not fulfilling its important legal role.

As the honourable member for O'Connor said, there is going to be a need for a police service in the close personal protection area where the risk requires police personnel. The Bill is intended to provide the appropriate legal powers for the Protective Service and will not result in any additional budgetary costs to the Government. In fact, it will in the long term reduce Protective Service costs. The Government has a pretty good record in reducing government costs and has managed what the previous Government could not manage-it has reduced the deficit to less than half of what it was, to about $4 billion. It has set a course of deregulation. It has pruned government services in business and in primary industry which the previous Government could not manage despite the present rhetoric of the Opposition. The Government took the essential step of deregulating the dollar, a move which the previous Government could not bring itself to undertake. It has also reduced tax and social security fraud.

This legislation is in the context of cost reduction. I congratulate the Government for that. I say to the honourable member for O'Connor that the conservative alternative proposed by Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen also needs to be looked at. After all, Queensland is the highest taxed State in Australia and has the highest number of public servants and quasi public servants per capita. Certainly one would not see the Premier of Queensland taking on that sort of suggestion.

Mr Tuckey —I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, on the matter of relevance. I thought I had really played the game here today. I think we had better have some corresponding fairness.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) —The honourable member for O'Connor has raised a point of order on the score of irrelevance. The Chair must admit to having been temporarily distracted by being in conversation with the Clerk on a matter requiring urgent address. I invite the honourable member for Eden-Monaro, if irrelevant, to become relevant immediately.

Mr SNOW —I certainly will, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Australian Protective Service, in line with government policy, has defined objectives which will point the service in the direction of a more cost effective, client responsive and flexible organisation than its predecessors. I believe that it will be more cost effective, more client responsive and more flexible because it is government run. As I said previously, there are certain areas where that can happen. According to the annual report of the Australian Protective Service, one-third of its members are doing a voluntary course in areas of protective security which are additional to training which is provided and which is proving to be most cost effective.

I commend the Minister for introducing this Bill to ensure greater efficiency and cost effectiveness in the Australian Protective Service. Australians will be able to recognise readily that properties such as Family Courts, the Lodge, Parliament House, Government House, illegal immigration detention centres and Defence Department establishments are now capably guarded by a distinctive body-the Australian Protective Service. I have great pleasure in supporting the legislation.