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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1210

Senator JESSOP —I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Recognising the Labor Government's preoccupation with major crime in Australia, I refer the Attorney-General to his decision to cut off Commonwealth finance to the national secretariat of the Australian Crime Prevention Council. Does the Attorney- General realise that the miserable Commonwealth sum of $28,000, first granted and regarded as quite important in 1974 by his predecessor, the then Labor Attorney-General, now Justice Murphy, which funds were deemed important enough to survive the necessary belt tightening years of the previous Government, is essential for the running of the national secretariat of the Crime Prevention Council and for the publishing of its extensively read and respected journal, The Forum. What justification can the Attorney-General offer for going against the wisdom of his predecessor and withdrawing these funds to an organisation which embraces a wide range of people such as members of the public, those in corporations, academics, police, correctional service officers, insurers, commissioners, lawyers and judges who are all concerned with crime prevention in Australia and whose consensus view should be very important to the so-called Hawke consensus Government?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The principle adopted in withdrawing this year the grant-in -aid of $27,000 or $28,000 was one I would have thought Senator Jessop would regard as the wholly admirable one of not wasting public money on an organisation which was utterly unable to justify the expenditure of that sum despite numerous and repeated requests to do so. I will be perfectly happy to table correspondence with the organisation on this matter, which I do not have with me at the moment. The reality is that it works very well and successfully at a State level. That is where the real action in the Crime Prevention Council takes place. A grant was given some years ago to establish a national secretariat in order that that could operate as a co-ordinating body, a central secretariat for keeping membership records and matters of that kind and, I think , for giving some organisational input on a national level. In practice, it has not worked out anything like that. I could be rather ruder about it if I were so minded, but I will not be. I just reject out of hand another squalid little attempt by the Opposition to beat up out of absolutely nothing an allegation that this Government is less than assiduous in the extreme in dealing with questions of crime and its prevention.