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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1324

Senator DURACK —I remind the Attorney-General of answers that he gave to Senate Estimates Committee E last Tuesday evening in relation to the National Crime Authority's vote. The result of his answers was that he said that at the moment apart from the commissioners there are four lawyers engaged on a full time or part time basis on the sifting of the Costigan material. I ask whether the Attorney is aware of a statement made last night by his colleague the Special Minister of State in which that Minister referred to another 20 people who were working on this same material, additional to the lawyers mentioned by Senator Evans on Tuesday. I ask: Did those extra 20 people take up their full time positions within the last 48 hours and what are the qualifications and functions of the staff who were described by Mr Young as analysts and of the six who were described as collators. What are their qualifications and what is their status?

Senator GARETH EVANS —As to the last part of that question relating to the qualifications and status of the persons described as collators and analysts, I will have to take that on notice, and seek a reply. As to the first part of the question, the reality is that this week we are in the middle of a formal transition of staff from the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union to the Crime Authority. It is the case , I am told, that 89 of the Costigan staff formally transferred to the NCA as of 1 October, that is to say, the beginning of this week, but on the basis that the Commissioner would continue to have priority on their services for his report. I am told that 80 per cent of these people have in turn, as of this week, largely completed their work on the report and the NCA is paying their salaries now. Arrangements are being put in place this week for them to do work under the direction of the Authority.

It was of course the case that a significant proportion of the Costigan staff was continuing to spend time, as I indicated in answer a moment ago to Senator MacGibbon, on the collation and analysis on a continuing basis of material that was already in the possession of the Costigan Commission and was, of course, also the subject of the Costigan summaries transferred to the NCA.

Once again one can argue about which particular box these people are to be described as being in at any given point in time, but it is an unproductive argument because we are in the middle of a transition process in which the Authority is mobilising resources. It is not recreating resources externally. It would be a pointless, futile, expensive waste of time to create a separate bureaucracy when the full transfer of the Costigan staff resources is so imminent. Once again I believe there is no inconsistency in anything I may have told the Senate Estimates Committee as to the work of lawyers working specifically on advising the Authority as to what might properly be the subject of a formal reference and what Mr Young might have said last night so far as the overall staffing position is concerned.

Senator DURACK —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question. Do I understand from that answer that the extra people mentioned by the Special Minister of State have only just been transferred? Are they part of this group that was transferred to the Authority only the other day?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The three members have only just been transferred to the formal authority of the National Crime Authority, but that is not to say that they have only just started work on the particular Costigan material because the job that a great many of these people have been doing all along has been working on the further adding to and refinement of and reshaping of the material that has been in the Costigan Commission's possession. I am not in a position to give any more detail on that. I will see what further information the Special Minister of State is able to supply.