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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2538


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(8.36) —May I, without indicating too much commitment to Senator Chipp's amendment, indicate how it is that I can live with that amendment notwithstanding that kind of point which can reasonably be made about people innocently, with purely industrial motives, being caught up in something which nonetheless behind the scenes has criminal activities at its core. The short answer is this: What we are talking about here is not the creation of criminal offences and the exposing to liability of people such as the executive officer to which Senator Harradine referred. If we were exposing them to any sort of liability, to any sort of charge, merely by virtue of being caught up in the process, it would be very alarming indeed. All we are doing is defining what the legitimate jurisdiction of the National Crime Authority is and ruling out by this further extension of the definition any technical point being taken by the criminals, if you like, who are caught up in the particular enterprise that the investigation is misconceived and unable to be continued because the immediate subject matter of the investigation is something which can be characterised as a genuine industrial dispute.

I think it is in order to ward off that situation, which none of us would wish to see, whereby genuine criminal activity is occurring behind the facade of genuine industrial activity, creating the possibility of a court injunction or something being obtained by the people whom we want to get at to stop the Authority continuing its investigation. It is in the light of that kind of consideration that the Government would be prepared to live with this amendment although basically, as I indicated, we think it is not strictly necessary.