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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1882

Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Chipp asked me a question concerning the early release of certain prisoners. I have some supplementary information. I indicated yesterday that the Government was not aware that anyone had been convicted of the murder of Donald Mackay, the anti-drugs campaigner. I am now informed that while no person has been convicted of the offence of the murder of Donald Mackay, the persons Tizzoni and Joseph, the subject of Senator Chipp's question yesterday, are serving sentences in respect of convictions in Victoria of conspiracy to murder Donald Mackay. These conspiracy offences are still, however, Victorian State offences, not Commonwealth offences. Accordingly, to the extent that any consideration is being given to the early release of Tizzoni and Joseph, that is a matter entirely for the Victorian authorities. The general question of corruption in gaols, as I again said in answer to Senator Chipp yesterday, is primarily a matter for State authorities. I have, however, brought to the attention of the Attorney-General the concern expressed by Senator Chipp on the position of Federal offenders in State gaols.

Senator Chipp also asked whether the Government was considering a government-funded witness protection scheme. I am now advised by the Special Minister of State as follows: The Government recognises that effective witness protection is an important adjunct to law enforcement agencies, particularly in the fight against organised crime. With respect to the National Crime Authority, witness protection is not simply a matter for this Government, as the fight against organised crime involves all jurisdictions and government. All governments are, of course, represented on the NCA inter-governmental committee. Indeed, the question of appropriate law enforcement witness protection arrangements generally is to be considered by the Australian Police Ministers Council later this month.

Senator Chipp —Thank you very much.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am always happy to oblige Senator Chipp, particularly when he asks me so nicely.