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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2660


Senator DURACK(6.19) —I have listened carefully to the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans). Certainly there are major problems with this proposal of the Australian Democrats. Certainly the drafting needs to be looked at very closely. On the other hand, there is a very sound thought behind the proposal. Obviously the Mareva injunction as it is developing would still not be available to the Authority. That is clear enough. It is a very new concept but it clearly does not apply in this situation. I suggest to the Attorney-General that there are some precedents which I have not looked at recently. Proposals were developed under the Customs Act in the late 1970s to freeze assets which were suspected of being the ill-gotten gains of a drug importation. I recall that there were very great difficulties in developing those provisions and I am not sure whether they have been very successful. But at least I think there is a basis for concern that large sums of money made as a result of organised crime may be in the country in some form or other. This money probably should be frozen until a prosecution is completed and, in the event that the prosecution is successful, a conviction recorded. Such a case may involve very high fines or some confiscation of assets. So, there is a basis for this proposal.

I think that although the Australian Democrats are to be congratulated for bringing the amendment forward it would be inappropriate for us to pass it at this stage. I understand from discussions I have had with Senator Chipp that he is also of a mind not to press it at this stage. I think it would be a pity if the matter were put aside and no further consideration was given to it.

I am sure from what the Attorney-General has said that he is prepared to give further consideration to a possible future amendment to this legislation. It may be that in the course of the work of the Authority, situations will arise in which an amendment along these lines can become more specific as a result of experience. However, at this stage I think it would be preferable if the amendment were withdrawn.