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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2600

Senator HARRADINE(11.23) —I will introduce a couple of matters into this debate which no doubt will be dealt with by members of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs which considered this matter. The National Crime Authority is an authority which has been delegated certain executive functions. It is not a judicial body, a judicial institution. As I have been following the debate I have attempted to see what qualities the National Crime Authority should be clothed with. It should have the quality of independence and a quality that enables a proper executive audit over the delegated executive functions of that Authority. Were the Authority a judicial body I certainly would go along entirely with what Senator Durack has said, because the responsibility to ensure the independence of a judicial body would supersede anything else. But it seems to me that in our system of democracy, the elected people have responsibilities, and elected governments have executive responsibilities, which they must discharge on behalf of the people who elect them. If they fail to discharge adequately those responsibilities the people have audit and control over their actions at the next election. If we go too far along the line of clothing bodies with delegated executive functions with absolute independence, who is going to control that body ultimately? These are the things that concern me as I listen to this debate. I have expressed my view here in this chamber about the trend that governments and parliaments are pursuing at this time, of clothing non-judicial, non-elected authorities with either judicial powers or functions or with functions more appropriate to the Executive.

Having listened to the debate I am currently inclined to support the proposal that the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) is putting forward on behalf of the Government, which I assume is a response to the criticism of the original Bill.

Senator Chipp —Contained in the Committee's report.

Senator HARRADINE —Yes, contained in the Committee's report. The reason I support the amendment is that in a particular case the proposal would not enable the Committee's proper delegated executive functions to be halted arbitrarily by one in whom there is reposed the proper role of executive functions; namely, the Minister. But this responsibility would be shared amongst the inter-governmental committee upon which, of course, there are representatives of the States who are necessary for the proper functioning of the National Crime Authority.

Senator Chipp —The IGC has to be unanimous.

Senator HARRADINE —Exactly. As Senator Chipp says, it has to be unanimous. That is how I see it at present; I thought I would chuck those ideas into the ring.