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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2556

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(10.07) —I am delighted to see that the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) is a born-again States' righter. I hope that this is not an aberration and that he does not lose his conversion too quickly. What Senator Evans says in terms of the logic has a lot to commend it. It has a certain attraction. It is my own view, from a practical point of view, that the States will not choose to veto a Commonwealth term of reference, and if they do they will have to give very good, clear, precise, logical and articulate reasons because, to use the expression that we both used earlier in the debate, the dynamics of politics are such that the composition of the committee will be made up of Liberal, Labor and National Party governments, each watching each other with a great deal of care, watching the logic, reasons and conclusions that lead it to veto a resolution. From that practical point of view it is unlikely to happen. The truth of the matter is that the National Crime Authority will be an effective authority if it does have the co-operation and good will of the States. One of the inherent weaknesses we have suffered from so far in dealing with crime of this nature is that there has not been that good will and sense of constructive co-operation. One really has to ask oneself what might cause a State to veto a Commonwealth reference.

Goodwill and co-operation from the States is important to me. As I said earlier , I think I was the only person in this chamber who voted against our Government 's Bill at the time, and I voted against it primarily because it was introduced in spite of the States and I could see it doomed to failure because it would not have had the co-operation of the States and probably would not have had access to the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence. There was a whole range of reasons. I think also there is something to be said for there being reciprocal arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth in terms of being able to veto each other's references. Of course it ought to be remembered that the Commonwealth still has its general powers of inquiry. Naturally the Australian Federal Police is able to pursue with ardour, vigour and enthusiasm crimes it believes have been committed under Commonwealth laws. It is not abrogating responsibility in those areas.

Senator Gareth Evans —And it could help to create a special royal commission where it was considered necessary.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Of course. It could do a whole range of things in respect of legislation exclusive to itself. But the truth is that we all know that by and large crimes of this nature have a colour of State and Commonwealth laws mixed amongst them. That is why we need the co-operation to which I have referred. We are referring now to special investigatory responsibilities as distinct from the general ones. I do not think it would be a problem in terms of veto, nor do I see it necessarily as an abrogation of Commonwealth responsibilities. But at the same time arguments have been put forward by Senator Durack and others on our side that give a balancing point of view. I can understand why they feel the way they do, and why Senator Chipp takes the position that he does.