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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 137


Senator ELSTOB —My question is directed to the Attorney-General and refers to the Family Court of Australia. Can the Attorney advise what the current situation is regarding the new security measures to protect Family Court judges, their families and court staff? Is the Attorney able to say what progress has been made in finding out who was responsible for the attacks against the Family Court? In investigating this matter have the police screened information, particularly that gained from the Costigan Royal Commission into the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, to check any connection between organised criminal groups and the crimes committed against the Family Court?


Senator GARETH EVANS —For obvious reasons, I do not think it is appropriate for me to discuss publicly the security measures that have been taken in response to the recent outrages so far as family courts are concerned, at least so far as matters of detail are concerned. I can say, however, that security has been thoroughly reviewed and very substantially strengthened following those recent violent incidents. Those measures include the protection of the courts, the homes of judges and judges themselves when in transit.

In addition to specific security measures, the Government has approved-this was announced in the Budget last night-substantially increased staffing levels for the court. We have also initiated a long term building program to cover Parramatta, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, which is already well in train in the case of Brisbane and Perth, to provide suitable and secure accommodation for the courts, which is a difficulty in the absence of custom built buildings.

Shorter term physical security measures in the courts are taking place in a number of areas, particularly Sydney, as I have mentioned publicly in the last few days.

So far as the investigation of attacks upon members of the court and their families are concerned, the Joint Commonwealth-State Task Force continues its investigations. I am afraid that I am simply not at liberty to disclose the stage that that investigation has reached or to give any details of the leads being followed by the joint task force.