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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1785


Senator ARCHER(9.42) —Mr Acting Deputy President, seeing that this is a moment for baring hearts, I suppose I should also advise the chamber that I had been on the list and that I had been removed, but that I had not advised you, prior to Senator Tate getting to his feet, that I wished to speak to the Bill. I do not blame Senator Tate at this juncture, because it has been a long and involved debate, and certainly I understand that the Government Ministers by how must have really heard all the problems and all the faults that go with this piece of tawdry legislation to the extent that it must upset them quite considerably.

All the issues that have been raised by members on this side of the chamber really tell the whole story. There is this question of privacy. Government members make such a lot of privacy, as if it is something that belongs to them. As I mentioned in the course of a short speech yesterday, we make all sorts of arrangements about privacy and we remove things because of privacy; yet here is the most damning piece of intrusion that we have ever tried to push through this Parliament.

The numbers and the range of people that have complained about it legitimately are really quite astounding. But the area that I believe has not been adequately dealt with and that brought me into this debate-

Honourable senators interjecting-


Senator ARCHER —Mr Acting Deputy President, do you think you could get the football match somewhere else?


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Yes. Senator Tate! Senator Watson!


Senator Sheil —All Tasmanians.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —All Tasmanians. I call Senator Archer.


Senator ARCHER —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. My need to come into this debate is on the basis of what the proposed identity card will not do. It will not clean up this matter of social security fraud; it will not stop people avoiding taxation liabilities. If honourable senators need any references, I have all the references that I can possibly imagine here, from the Bureau of Criminal Intelligence annual report, from the Australian Federal Police annual report, from the report of the Director of Public Prosecutions, from the National Crime Authority, from the Auditor-General, and so it goes on. All these authorities are saying that the problem with the enforcement of the law is the Government's total ineptitude in properly carrying out its responsibilities under the law enforcement agencies that currently exist. We have the Bureau of Criminal Intelligence starved for funds-starved for everything. We have the Federal Police begging for money, begging for services. We have the Director of Public Prosecutions saying that there is no use going to him because he does not have the resources. We have all these people saying: `All we have time to do is a few of the big ones. We just cannot possibly get around to the little ones'. So what do we do? We are now looking up both barrels of trying to establish another body of thousands of people all over Australia. Are we going to supply it with all the resources that it needs, while we will not supply the resources that the existing law enforcement bodies need to do what they are set up to do? That is what we are on about at the moment. That is exactly what the Government is talking about. If it would properly look after the enforcement agencies it already has, we would be much better off.

I have heard various honourable senators talking about the Australian Taxation Office. It is in a deplorable state. It has been granted the resources and it will not spend them. It has not the faintest idea of how to go about trying to get itself out of the mess it is in. How do we know that this new body will not wind up in the same sort of sticky mess that the Taxation Office is in? Social security fraud is not a matter of false identity. We know that. We have been told that over and over again. But no, the Government says: `Let's put in identity cards so that we can try to stop the 0.6 per cent', or whatever it is.

What else are we dealing with? Who is it that we are trying to stop? The numbers are not there. The people out in the real world have been told over and over again by the Government that this measure will stop all these problems. It will not stop these problems. It will not even make a dent in these problems. It will not stop the cash economy. It will not stop the criminals. All the people that are now all over Australia involved in criminal activities--

Honourable senators interjecting-


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Would the Senate please come to order? Senator Archer is entitled to be heard in silence.


Senator ARCHER —It is hard work in here. And I am trying to be as quick as I can. If honourable senators opposite would only sit down and shut up for a while, I might finish. One need only look at the reports on Dugan's luggage to see the absolute fallacy and farce in the things that the Government has been saying. When Dugan arrived at the barrier and his case was opened, it was found that he had very little in there except a whole bundle of drivers licences, passports and counterfeit currency. People like this are just looking forward to this ID card. It is a brand new line of business for them. It is absolutely pennies from heaven to have something like this that will be so good.

The cost of implementation is something that I cannot possibly let go by without some comment. The small business people of Australia have been taxed and thrashed and inconvenienced and over-regulated to the extent now that to give them another one like this means that we may as well pass this Bill and put them all out of business in one hit. We might as well add one more clause saying: `We will close every small business in Australia'. That is just about what it amounts to.

The black economy will not be changed one iota by this measure. Anybody who is paying cash now will be paying cash in the future. I can assure the Special Minister of State (Senator Tate) that in the areas of his responsibility, the Bureau of Criminal Intelligence, the Federal Police and so on, the passing of this legislation will not make one scrap of difference from what occurs now. They will have more people to deal with because there will be this brand new, exciting method of making money on the side

The whole thing is an absolute farce. Goodness only knows why the Government has gone on with this. It is prepared to go on with this and make itself look absolutely ridiculous by producing this sort of rubbish, that has no relevance and no use, and to keep us here when the Estimates committees could be meeting. I realise that it is trying to keep us out of the electorate at present. I do not blame the Government for that. But while it is prepared to be so foolish, at least it is up to us to demonstrate this point and keep on commenting on it. Where does the Government think this will get it? What possible advantage can there be in going through the farce of presenting this legislation? It knows it has lost the vote. It knows it will not serve any purpose. It knows that if it were passed it would not serve any purpose.


Senator Sanders —Sit down and we will defeat it.


Senator ARCHER —I do not need advice from Senator Sanders.


Senator Sanders —Why not? You are not doing very well on your own.


Senator ARCHER —I would do a jolly sight better if it were not for Senator Sanders. I recommend to Senator Tate, in particular, that when he gets time, he should read the reports of the law enforcement authorities for which he is responsible-and one or two others for which he is not responsible-and assess from that the fact that the problem is that the Government until now has paid no heed to trying to improve the law enforcement capacity of the bodies that already exist. If we took the trouble to make sure that they were capable of doing the job with which they are charged, we would not need any cards or any further authorities. In fact, we could save money if we did the job better. I trust that when Senator Tate rises to his feet, he will be able to confirm how foolish the Government has been.