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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1705

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(10.17) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

The purpose of the Australian Federal Police Amendment Bill is to give effect to the Government's decision that the protective service component of the AFP should be abolished and that the bulk of the functions formerly undertaken by that component should be transferred to a separate protective service organisation, which is to be established within the Department of Administrative Services. It is expected that the transfer will take place in October 1984.

The Government has taken this decision on the basis that the quality of service able to be offered by an organisation dedicated to a single task is significantly better than that offered by an organisation responsible for two or more dissimilar functions. There is a clear distinction between the requirements and characteristics of an organisation which is intended to perform the range of duties required of a modern police force and those of an organisation dedicated to performing the more specialised functions of access control and the security of premises. The decision is strongly supported by AFP and by user departments, is consistent with the views of the previous government announced in December 1982 and with the proposal made last year by Royal Commissioner Mr Justice Stewart.

The necessary consultative processes to implement the decision have already begun, and will involve the Australian Federal Police Association and representatives of the protective service component. Training courses are under way for those members of the component who wish to qualify to transfer to general policing duties and thus, if suitable, to remain with the AFP. Those persons who are eligible and suitable will be able to transfer on satisfactory completion of such courses. Members of the protective service component who do not wish to qualify, or do not qualify, to remain with the AFP, will transfer to the new service on terms, conditions and salaries comparable to those they presently enjoy, and with preservation of leave and other credits. Details of these matters remain under active consideration.

The precise duties of personnel employed by the new service are matters for consultation with user-departments. The Department of Foreign Affairs is to establish its own guarding arrangements. The question of guarding at detention centres administered by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is the subject of further consideration.

Members of the AFP will continue to perform their present policing functions at certain locations-official residences, Parliament House, airports, embassies, consulates and at such other places as may be determined.

The Bill does not in any way alter the functions, powers, administration, methods of appointment to or the terms and conditions of service to the AFP. Its sole purpose is to remove from the Australian Federal Police Act all references to the protective service component and to the AFP as comprising two components. Nor does the Bill contain any machinery provisions under which former protective service component members will be transferred into the public service. The necessary machinery for the transfer already exists in Division 9F of the Public Service Act 1922.

The ongoing cost of the new service will be offset by reductions in AFP votes. There will, however, be some establishment costs in 1984-85, associated with the transfer of function. These will cover such items as uniforms and the purchase of equipment which cannot be transferred from the AFP. It is envisaged that these costs will be of the order of $1.5 million, and they will be the subject of further, detailed consideration in the context of the 1984-85 Budget.

The Bill includes two minor amendments to the AFP Act-to sections 15 and 36- which, had the Bill not been introduced, would have been incorporated in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. The purpose of the amendment proposed to section 15 is to ensure flexibility in day to day administration of the AFP by providing that delegations may follow functional lines, acknowledging that administration functions of the force are carried out jointly by police officers and public servants.

The purpose of the amendment to section 36 of the act is to permit implementation of the recommendations of a recently completed joint management review of the AFP, the first since the force was established in 1979. The review report has proposed significant improvements in AFP manpower control procedures, training and promotion systems. The amendment preserves the 'efficiency' criteria, which is an essential element of the present provision, and directs consideration of certain relevant matters in evaluating the relative efficiency of members competing for promotion.

I have arranged for an explanatory memorandum to be distributed to all honourable senators.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Reid) adjourned.