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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2255

Senator ARCHER(8.27) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

Telecommunications interception is expensive, it is very time and resource consuming, and no one likes doing it. However, it is conceded to be an integral part of reasonable law enforcement, and it is now absolutely essential in the treatment of white-collar crime, especially drug and drug-related offences, and horse racing, gambling and such matters. We are now dealing with sophisticated criminals who are a long way ahead of the old jaw breakers who used to be the major criminals.

The only purpose for requiring telephone interception is to apprehend major criminals. The facility is not used lightly, and it never will be. The need to secure an interception quickly, safety and efficiently is paramount. Whatever we do by way of legislation must take that into account, and that is what the Committee was charged with studying.

Of course, in any committee operation that deals with such matters, there are those with philosophic objections to almost anything. I felt that it would have been better had we not so resolutely stuck to the philosophical problems of various members but considered the purpose of the legislation. If we are to make any meaningful approach to the treatment of law enforcement, we need to put ourselves on at least something like a similar footing to the criminals that we are trying to apprehend.

I certainly do not agree with having a single authority, with all States having to deal through it to obtain an interception. No evidence was supplied to indicate that that was the best method. I realise that something had to be done to salve the views of the extreme Left, and that was it. If it has to go through a common carrier, that is only about one step short of putting a notice on people's doors saying that there is to be an interception--

Senator Tate —That is a defamatory statement against the Federal Police.

Senator ARCHER —It is not; the Federal Police do not want to do it and the State police do not want them to do it. Not one authority in Australia said during the inquiry that the best method to adopt was that which is now before us. Crime in Australia is out of control and every law enforcement organisation in the country agrees. This legislation itself will not fix the problem. It could help but it will not do so unless the appropriate financial, technical and human resources are made available. I ask the Government to bear in mind that without the provision of reasonable amounts of human and financial resources as a backup, the legislation will be worthless.