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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1880

Senator REID —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Special Minister of State. I refer the Minister to reports which appeared in the Canberra Times on 13 and 14 May. The article on 13 May stated that the Australian Federal Police Association asserted that overtime bans closed the Australian Federal Police criminal records unit last Saturday. The article on 14 May stated that the AFP advised that that was not the case, that it was manned by only one officer and not the usual three, as one was absent on special leave and one was absent due to ill health. Why were the two officers of that very important unit not replaced? Why was that unit left two-thirds unoperational?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am advised that the Canberra Times report was erroneous insofar as it referred to the absence of three officers during one shift on Saturday, 11 May. In fact, as Senator Reid has acknowledged, one of these officers was present. As to the larger part of her question, in any case, as the Special Minister of State tells me, information on Commonwealth warrants held by the branch was readily accessible by computer at any one of a number of terminals at various points in the AFP, including the operations centre. When an inquiry is received as to whether a person is on the wanted list, it is standard procedure to interrogate this from the operations centre. It is not true to state that security systems for the police services centre at Weston were not being monitored. This is a routine task of the diplomatic and consular branch.

It is not unusual for an inspector to be recalled for weekend duty. The superintendent in charge of the area was also present on both Saturday and Sunday. Again, this was not something unusual, in terms of that aspect of the Canberra Times report. Finally, the updating of branch records is carried out by Public Service support staff during normal office hours from Monday to Friday.