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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2605

Senator HARRADINE(11.58) —Senator Lewis and Senator Crichton-Browne talked about my problem. I do not see that I have a problem. I threw a few criteria into the ring which I believe ought to be applied, and are being applied, to the consideration of this debate. Quite frankly, we are dealing with a matter of great national importance. We are establishing an authority which could not, I suggest, have been established 10 years ago.

Senator Crichton-Browne —And probably in the next 10 years either.

Senator HARRADINE —That is a real possibility. The laws that we as legislators make must have a cohesive as well as a protective role. Their cohesive role in this respect is based on the moral indignation of the general populace in response to the expose of rampant crime-white collar crime and other sorts of crime-which, it is considered, cannot adequately be dealt with by the existing establishments in the various States. As an expression of that concern we have this legislation. It is cohesive; in other words, it is an expression of the view of the people, based on their moral values and their moral indignation about the undermining of the values that they consider essential for a democratic society. But the law must also have a protective role. As I said initially, we are establishing a national crime authority and everybody in this chamber realises that this would have been impossible 10 years ago. Senator Crichton-Browne suggested that it might be impossible in another 10 years, so we are getting it off the ground now because of the concern among the populace.

But we could go too far. We could clothe this organisation with such powers as would, in fact, undermine our responsibilities to ensure that the protective role of this law is upheld. I am concerned about that. The functions of this Authority are somewhat different from those mentioned by Senator Sir John Carrick when he referred to the Slatyer inquiry. This was a very important inquiry but it was an inquiry, it was not an exercise of delegated executive function. It was more in the nature of an exercise of delegated representative functions of the Government and members of parliament. The report was commissioned, it was announced in Parliament that a report would be made by Professor Slatyer. He received submissions and his report was tabled in Parliament. As such, the report was part of our delegated representative function. However, this body is clothed with delegated executive functions and, as such, its main purpose is to generate hard evidence which could be used in the prosecution and ultimate conviction of criminals in Australia. In my view, there needs to be a real consideration of the protective role of this legislation and, indeed, to ensure that the Executive, namely the Commonwealth Government and the State governments which are participating in this National Crime Authority do not abandon their executive authority.

As I said initially when I entered this debate about an hour ago, I am becoming increasingly concerned that the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens in Australia are not being properly determined either by judicial authorities exercising the judicial function or by elected authorities exercising their legislative function. I have said this before about the Human Rights Commission and the Sex Discrimination Commission. These are non-elected, non-judicial authorities exercising functions that would be more appropriately exercised by either independent judicial authorities or by legislative bodies- politicians-who are answerable to the people.

Having regard to all that, I believe that the Attorney-General's amended proposal is attractive and unless I hear anything to convince me to the contrary I will support it.