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Monday, 11 May 1987
Page: 2956


Mr CLEELAND(10.12) —In the very short time available to me tonight, I first point out that the Proceeds of Crime Bill must be seen as part of a broader package of Bills introduced by the Government. These Bills go back to the establishment of the National Crime Authority, the changes to extradition laws, including the new treaties currently being dealt with by the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen), the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, which passed through the House tonight, and, of course, there is the Proceeds of Cash Transactions Bill, to be debated next week. Without question, the Attorney-General deserves the name `the Elliot Ness of Australian Crime'. No Attorney in Australia's history has introduced in such a short space of time such a complete and compelling package of legislation which will attack organised crime in Australia. The Attorney-General deserves the appropriate credit and reward for this and the thanks of all Australians who now understand how the tentacles of crime can permeate our society.

It is a great pity that it has taken so many years of inquiry, royal commissions, the Beach Inquiry in Victoria, the Mr X inquiries in Victoria, and the abortion inquiries in Victoria, for example. There have been many royal commissions. There was the collapse of the Nugan Hand bank and Cambridge Credit. Australian history is studded with organised fraud and organised crime. It has taken a Labor government to bring forward the most powerful anti-crime package in this country's history. One wonders why it has taken so long. There is nothing new in what we know today about crime. It did not just happen in 1984, 1981 or 1979; it was well organised and running in 1960 when I joined the Victorian Police Force. It was still running and well organised in 1969 when I left that job. It was running for the 14 years that I practised as a lawyer in Victoria. Yet, no-one really seriously tried to bring forward legislation of this kind. Not one State or Federal government bothered to undertake the difficult task that the Attorney-General has undertaken.

I appreciate that it is not easy to bring in a package of such complexity; it is not easy offending some powerful organisations in this country which may have to bear some of the cost of cleaning up the system. Perhaps before I go further, I might remind the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) that at present, under the Banking Act and the Income Tax Assessment Act, banks are required to keep and to maintain records. I cannot see that the cost will be any greater than that which is now, rightly, imposed on the banks to maintain those records.

Debate interrupted.