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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2488

Mr MAHER —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has Australia recently signed a number of extradition treaties? If so, when will such treaties come into operation?

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —Yes, as a result of work by the task force we have signed some 13 extradition treaties. A number of them will be in operation within a very short space of time; they just require appropriate ratification by the respective parliaments of Australia and the particular countries with which the extradition arrangements have been made. They are significant treaties because they bring Australia into the modern concept of looking at the law of Europe whereby extradition can apply when there is some statement of an offence and also the understanding that the person can be appropriately identified. It does away with the necessity that existed in the past of having to follow what were called the inherited treaties of the British, where there had to be some sworn evidence in addition to the statement of the offence. This is a modern concept; it is accepted by all of the European democratic nations and also by the United States of America. The treaties are very significant because a number of criminals in this day and age travel the world, and it is important to have modern extradition processes whereby those who are charged with an offence can be dealt with quickly and sent back to the country from which there is a complaint.

I thank the honourable member for the question. I think that the extradition treaties, plus matters of mutual assistance and other legislation that is now before the House, will do a lot to overcome international criminal activity, it will be a direct attack on white collar crime, it will mean that criminal activity in the future will be monitored not only in respect of the person but also in respect of his assets, it will enable the criminals concerned to be dealt with in an appropriate fashion, and it will enable their assets to be confiscated. That should prevent their having the incentive to continue activity in the future.