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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2604

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(11.43) —I take up the interjection by Senator Durack in respect of having the right people there at the right time for the wrong reasons. Honourable senators will recall that Sir John Kerr had experience of a meeting which was all about loans for temporary purposes. I am sure that that has not escaped the minds--

Senator Lewis —He did not know what was going on.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —He was not invited, that is why. I think that by and large the safeguards may well protect us from the prospect of there being interference for corrupt purposes. Frankly, regarding a special investigation, I do not agree with the proposition put by the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) that the Authority could go off on some wildcat exercise. The Authority must stay clearly within its terms of reference. My greater concern is that this will provide an excuse-we will be dealing with these clauses later on-for the intergovernmental committee to continue to inquire in detail, almost on a daily basis, as to the activities of the Authority in respect of a term of reference which it has been given. I believe that compromises the integrity of the Authority. While I understand that it may have some relevance and virtue in respect of general inquiries, I do not see it has any relevance for special investigations. I ask again: What is the reason for the direction? The Attorney- General has spoken about a misallocation of resources. Presumably, a judge will be the chairman and the other members will be highly qualified and skilled people who are able to make practical--

Senator Chipp —Not necessarily; they are recommendations from the States.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I had forgotten for a moment where the Democrats stand on the abolition of State governments. I thank Senator Chipp for reminding me. Presumably, by and large, they will be competent, capable people who will be able to make practical on the spot judgments. They will surely have the greater knowledge of what is relevant and real, what needs to be pursued, who the targets are and what areas they ought to be probing into. For the committee to be able to make a judgment, as I said earlier, will simply require it to be regularly--

Senator Chipp —How would you like Mr Landa setting a target?

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Presumably, he will not be on the Authority. Only the Authority will know what is vital to it. It will require daily monitoring. I understand Senator Harradine's problems. There is, perhaps, in some respects reason for a judicial audit but what concerns me is that as long as the committee continues to inquire into the precise details of the activity of the Authority there is a chance of political corruption. For it to be able to give precise directions means that it will have to know precisely what the Authority is doing. That will mean dates, names, places and activities. As long as that information is available to the Committee in a precise way it concerns me that it could leak out. It might, in some way, compromise the Authority and cause, purposely or accidentally, people under investigation to learn that they are under investigation. All it does is expose the activities of the Authority quite unfairly, unreasonably and, in my view, quite improperly.