Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 294


Mr UREN (Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services)(6.28) —in reply-I would like to thank my two colleagues on this side, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Snow) and the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Lindsay), who just gave a very thoughtful contribution, and also the Opposition spokesperson for administrative services, the honourable member for O'Connor (Mr Tuckey) on his balanced and thoughtful contribution. The honourable member for O'Connor queried certain aspects of the Australian Protective Service Bill 1986, which I will answer to the best of my ability. First of all, let me put the record straight about the powers of the Minister. He had the idea that the Minister had greater powers than was thought. The purpose of clause 6 (1) was to constrain the Minister. The Minister can only take the jobs in accordance with the administrative arrangements. The time may come in the honourable member's political lifetime when he becomes a member of a government. If he becomes a Minister I have no doubt that he will find what the powers of administrative arrangements are. If he tries to stray beyond them, he will not get very far at all. There is no doubt in my mind about the powers. Both the then Special Minister of State, who was responsible for police, and I were very clear in the drafting of the legislation as to what the powers of the guards in the Australian Protective Service would be.

The honourable member also queried the powers of arrest. Those powers all relate to the present or expected functions of the guards. The guards are trained in relevant law. The purpose of the Bill is to clarify the powers, not to make more complex or extend powers. In most cases, it was thought that there was no need to define the powers, which exist in many Commonwealth Acts. But there was a problem and a legal opinion was sought on whether a personal claim could be made against a guard who made a wrongful arrest. This legislation will protect and give confidence to the Service.

My colleague the honourable member for O'Connor is a very private enterprise oriented person and he was concerned about the cost of this Service as compared with the private sector. It is admitted that the cost will be a little higher than the private sector, but we are using the private sector in less sensitive areas. The people from this Service are used in areas which are very sensitive and selective-for instance, the joint defence facilities, defence establishments and the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister. If the honourable member goes to the office of the Prime Minister, he will notice that on guard in his office is one of the people in the Service, so the Service undertakes the personal protection of the Prime Minister in this Parliament. I am not trying to boast about this, but the Australian Protective Service officers are more highly trained than officers in the private sector. That is an aspect of which I am quite proud, and as time goes on the pride in the Service will grow.

I turn to the question of demarcation. That is not a problem. The Australian Protective Service guards carry out only those functions that were set down by Sir Robert Mark for the guarding services. In other words, the police, who are more highly paid than guards, should not be wasting their time on guarding services.

As a person who has spent a long time involved with the police in relation to civil liberties, I was concerned about that aspect. I had discussions with my colleague the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) about this matter. A person whom we mutually respected went over the proposed legislation with a fine toothcomb on the aspect of civil liberties. In fact, this legislation will minimise the power of the guards, particularly as to arrest.

The honourable member for O'Connor dealt quite fairly with this matter in his speech, but he confused the aspect of the use of firearms. Whenever arrest powers are given, it is important, both to the officer and to the person who may be arrested, that the powers and rights are clearly defined. Firearms can be used only for the protection of a guard not to protect the property being guarded, but for the protection of the guard personally. If a person is running away, be that as it may; he or she will be caught another day. Under no circumstances will guards be taking pot-shots at people. It has been clearly defined that they should not do that. The main job of the guards is to protect Commonwealth property and the residences of the Prime Minister and the Governor-General.

I want to make it quite clear that the guards' powers are limited, their use of firearms is limited, they are trained, and it is well known what they can and cannot do. I again thank the House for the consideration it has given to this Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.