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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3283


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(5.09) —The National Crime Authority has before it now a massive series of problems. Hardly a day passes before a new problem is referred to the Authority. It has before it, of course, the residue of former commissions. It has before it the enormous investigations of the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union and all the records of the Costigan Commission, including its computer records. It has before it records from other commissions. It has, of course, had referred to it the evidence held by the three commissioners appointed to look at the late Mr Justice Lionel Murphy's problems. More recently, there have been referred to it from New South Wales matters concerning a former judge, Mr Foord, involving a suggestion that in his decision making he pursued a particular pattern of leniency atypical of the general pattern of approach by brother judges.


Senator Georges —That would not be hard.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I make no comment. I am relating to the problems that are before the Authority. As honourable senators will know, the Government, faced with an academic report, the Vinson report on this matter, sought to set up a judicial commission in New South Wales to inquire into the conduct of particular judges. The particular judge, now Mr Foord, resigned on the basis of ill health and the Government has said that the commission is not capable of dealing with him. These matters have now been referred to the National Crime Authority.

I am concerned at this trend, because the one way to destroy the effectiveness of the National Crime Authority is to use it as an overloaded area where one cannot find some other method of approach-indeed, virtually to use it as a dumping ground. If it is so overworked the matters that are before it cannot be dealt with. We have had a classic situation recently, first of all, in the Vinson report. That must be looked at. Only yesterday allegations were made in the New South Wales Parliament that there was a pattern of leniency and an adverse practice amongst lawyers called plea bargaining; that is, lawyers making bargains to get their clients either off or a lesser sentence by shopping around for judges. I make no reflection on the general judiciary of Australia. I believe that the judiciary of Australia, as to the overwhelming majority, are people of impeccable integrity. But, indeed, if there is evidence of this kind of thing it has to be sorted out. It has to be dealt with. There is no evidence at all that that can be done through the National Crime Authority. Yesterday the report of the Nagle inquiry into the Mackay disappearance and presumed murder was released. Out of this and the whole Mackay area-a matter now stretching over perhaps a decade-a grave worry has emerged about the conduct of all of the law enforcement agencies, particularly in New South Wales and elsewhere.


Senator Michael Baume —Particularly relating to drugs.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —Yes, particularly relating to drugs, which is, of course, a Commonwealth matter of primary importance. The fact is that for a prosecution of people allegedly involved in the Mackay disappearance and murder to come about it had to emerge from Victoria and not the home State, New South Wales. It is an absolute outrage and a reflection on the whole law enforcement area that that should be so. That fact is that yesterday a former judge, Mr Nagle, had to report adversely on a very senior police officer and to say of that officer that whilst he knew he should take a particular course he deliberately did not take that course because it suited his ambitions to do the reverse. I make no judgment except to say that the whole system of law enforcement in this country is coming under very serious surveillance and question if this is so. If we look at how the person alleged to be the main criminal in all this drug business and, indeed, allegedly involved in the Mackay murder, Trimbole, was allowed by the New South Wales authorities to escape the country one has to ask--


Senator Puplick —He was tipped off.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —Yes. Indeed, the evidence is that an information was given to him that if he did not go he might be arrested, and nothing, apparently, was done to apprehend him at all. In other words, he clearly had friends within the whole law enforcement system. This gets to the very heart not only of law enforcement at the police level, magisterial level or the judicial level, but also of the legislature itself-the Parliament and the Government of New South Wales. Yesterday there was the outrageous revelation about a former ethnic affairs commissioner, Mr Grassby, who lent himself, according to the Commissioner, Mr Nagle, to what must be one of the most corrupt approaches-an attempt to have made in the State Parliament a completely false statement on the Mackay situation, an attempt which Mr Grassby, according to the Commissioner, brought in writing, not only as a statement, but indeed as a draft speech to be made in the Parliament alleging quite wrongly that the Mackay disappearance and murder was not done by the particular drug mafia but by his family. How ugly is the allegation of a paper peddled by Mr Grassby that it was done by Mrs Mackay and her son. Anyone who knows the Mackay family knows of their tremendous integrity. I cannot think of anything more ugly, except perhaps the resistance of Mr Wran to any attempt even to have the family come and talk to him and his abuse of them when they did come. This was the ugliest thing-an attempt to present a completely false situation which led the Commissioner having to say that Mr Grassby was a witness of no credit at all, a man who has held high office in this country.

Something terrible is happening in this community, something that needs a rapid and effective cleansing, when we are able to say that the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union situation is still not discharged-some 35 murders of which some three only have been brought to justice. All the drug situation is not discharged. If we can say that there are elements in the police force, the magisterial system, the judicial system and the Government of the State that are obviously in a pattern of corruption it is a sad situation. I am proud to be able to say that the major focus on this situation resulted from Liberal governments both State and Federal. The Moffitt Royal Commission on Alleged Organised Crime in Registered Clubs in New South Wales first exposing drugs was appointed by a State Liberal government. The Costigan Royal Commission, the Woodward Royal Commission into Drug Trafficking, the Williams Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs and the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking were all part of a Federal Liberal attempt to expose the situation. My worry in rising to speak is that we are now overburdening the National Crime Authority. We are making it virtually impossible for it to do its specific work and, indeed, the Government must look to see how it can be strengthened to tackle the problems before it which are so enormous.

Question resolved in the affirmative.