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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2661


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(6.26) —The Government opposes this amendment, again rather quixotically, given that it appears that the numbers are against us with the Opposition supporting the Australian Democrats on this matter. We do not believe that it is necessary that there be an explicit power to seek a warrant for the arrest of a person on the grounds that it is believed he is going to leave the country. We believe that the existing powers are ample to cover that situation-the power, first of all, to seek a warrant to seize the person's passport and, secondly, in a situation where it is believed that would be ineffective, the power to subpoena that person to attend a hearing of the committee followed by the powers of arrest that follow automatically from the failure of that person to turn up to answer the summons so issued.

We believe that as a practical matter that avenue of redress would be available to the National Crime Authority. Although it might appear cumbrous and circuitous, it is a more attractive way in terms of maintaining consistency of principle than creating a wholly new arrest power for a purely investigative agency in relation to the purely exploratory stages of an investigation. We make that point. We acknowledge that the form in which the amendment now comes forward with certain limitations of time and so on is an improvement on the original draft of it. With that in mind, we will not go wailing to the wall and gnashing our teeth over this one. But we certainly indicate that this is not an amendment that is accepted by the Government; it is one that is forced upon us.