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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2536

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(8.25) —I just indicate the Government's response to Senator Chipp's amendments. As to the proposed rewrite, or the extension of paragraph (d) of the definition of relevant offence, we regard it as unnecessary but not really doing any damage to the spirit of the original proposition and, as such, it is not something we will oppose. It is not necessary because the language of the original paragraph (d) was deliberately chosen to cover, in terms and through ordinary principles of legal interpretation, almost anything that anyone could think of as coming within the definition of organised crime. But if it makes honourable senators more comfortable to think that there are some of those specific references in there, plus the provision of additional offences to be prescribed, that is something we do not resist.

As to amendment (1A), again we would regard this as unnecessary insofar as the exclusion of offences arising out of genuine industrial disputes, we believe, is sufficiently precise and sufficiently embracing to ensure that only those offences which do occur in the context of what are, on any view, genuine industrial disputes, would be so excluded from the Authority's ambit. But to the extent that the additional words proposed by Senator Chipp would allow offences occurring in the course of an industrial dispute to be looked at by the Authority if there is reason to believe that they are connected with other offences in which organised crime is genuinely involved, and if those words were put in those terms, we believe again that that does not do any particular violation to the spirit of the original. As such, we certainly would not resist this to the point of a division, although we do oppose it as being unnecessary.

As to amendment No. (2) deleting the qualification to the reference to three years and thus bringing the concept of relevant offence back to the original notion of something which is, in fact, a serious offence, we support that without equivocation. I foreshadow support, when it is formally moved, for amendment (3) from the Democrats, which is linked with amendment (2) and the Democrats' presentation of it, amendment (3) opening a clear window as it does for the Authority to utilise in investigating serious offences that involve organised crime but where the only visible manifestation of that may be a trivial offence which, in itself, would not constitute something satisfying the definition of a relevant offence.

The way in which the proposed new clause 4 (1A) is worded would, as Senator Chipp said, make it clear that so long as the Authority has a reasonably well founded suspicion that there is some organised crime activity going on behind the surface appearance of the lesser crime, then it is entitled to investigate the lesser crime even if at that stage it cannot identify with any precision what the more serious crime might be. In order to ensure, though, that the Authority cannot by that means acquire a general belief to deal with trivial offences, the proposed amendment of Senator Chipp is cast in such a way that the Authority's writ stops as soon as its suspicion of the connection stops. That seems to us a reasonable limitation. So I indicate support for the Democrats' amendment No. (3) in the form in which it will be moved.