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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 67

Senator HAINES —I direct my question to the Special Minister of State. Before doing so, I would like to offer him my congratulations and those of my Party on his elevation to that office, although I have to say that I cannot understand why such a basically decent person would ever want to be a Minister. In view of the widespread and ongoing community concern about inadequate law enforcement resources in Australia, will the Minister explain what steps he intends to take to rectify this problem? In particular, can he outline the ways in which he intends to improve on the approach taken by his predecessor, especially in relation to combating organised crime and drug trafficking?

Senator TATE —Firstly, I should say that I certainly do not accept the implication in the last part of Senator Haines's question that my predecessor had been anything but most astute in trying to get those resources which are required to deal with organised crime, particularly drug trafficking, in Australia. Indeed, as I recall from the briefings sometime during the last 12 hours or so, the fact is that by the end of this financial year the Australian Federal Police will have had an increase in manpower of some 21 per cent. We hope to add another 100 personnel to the Australian Federal Police this financial year. It is well known to honourable senators that the National Crime Authority has also had resources far in excess, for example, of those which were available to the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union. I believe that those two matters are merely highlights in the endeavours of my predecessor to ensure that those resources which are required to deal with organised crime and drug trafficking are provided.

I had the privilege of chairing a Senate committee which recommended the structure and organisation of the National Crime Authority. I know that many honourable senators on both sides of the chamber were interested in its report and the passage of the legislation. It became very apparent to me during the course of that inquiry that it was not always simply a question of resources but rather one of co-operation and collaboration between the various law enforcement agencies which would be crucial to a successful attack on organised crime in Australia. I believe that part of my role is not only to help secure those financial resources that might be required but also to help foster that collaboration and co-operation to overcome the protection of turf and the holding on to one's own particular area of jurisdiction which can sometimes impair the national effort that is required. As I have said, I will be undertaking both aspects-fighting for resources and attempting to ensure that all law enforcement agencies co-operate in the endeavour which I know the Senate would want them to undertake.