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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2284


Senator SPINDLER (8.35 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

12.Clause 4, page 13, after proposed section 3P, insert the following section:

Report to issuing officer on execution of warrant etc

"3PA.(1) The person to whom a search warrant is issued must furnish a report in writing to the issuing officer who issued the warrant:

(a)stating whether or not the warrant was executed; and

(b)if the warrant was executed—setting out briefly the result of the execution of the warrant (including a brief description of anything seized); and

(c)if the warrant was not executed—setting out briefly the reasons why the warrant was not executed; and

(d)stating whether or not an occupier's notice under section 3HA has been served in connection with the execution of the warrant; and

(e)in the case of a telephone search warrant—containing a copy of the form of search warrant and the form of occupier's notice if those documents were not furnished to the person; and

(f)containing such other particulars as may be prescribed.

"(2) A report with respect to a search warrant must be made within 10 days after the execution of the warrant or the expiry of the warrant, whichever first occurs.

"(3) Where the issuing officer who issued a search warrant has died, has ceased to be an issuing officer or is absent, a report required to be furnished to that officer under this section is to be furnished instead to another issuing officer.".

13.Clause 4, page 13, after proposed section 3P, insert the following section:

Report to issuing officer on execution of a search warrant

"3PB. A report to an issuing officer under section 3PA of this Part shall be in or to the effect of the prescribed form.".

14.Clause 4, page 13, after proposed section 3P, insert the following section:

Keeping and inspection of records

"3PC.(1) Where a search warrant is issued, the application for the warrant, a copy of the occupier's notice and the report on the execution of the warrant under section 3PA must be kept at such location or locations as are prescribed.

"(2) Any record relating to a search warrant which is kept as prescribed under subsection (1) may be destroyed at any time after the expiration of 6 years after the issue of the warrant.

"(3) Any record relating to a search warrant which is kept under subsection (1) may be inspected by the occupier of the premises to which the warrant relates, or by some person on behalf of the occupier, during prescribed hours.

"(4) As far as practicable, but not later than 1 January 1996, prescribed details of each application for a search warrant under this Part, each occupier's notice under section 3HA and each report under 3PA are to be electronically recorded in such a way as to make it possible for issuing officers electronically to access, search and print out those details when considering whether to issue a search warrant.

"(5) Electronically recorded details under subsection (4) may be destroyed at any time after the expiration of 6 years after the issue of the warrant.".

The bill provides very little supervision or checks on the powers which it bestows upon the police force. A report back procedure such as the one proposed in our amendment—which, incidentally, is identical to the procedure used in New South Wales for the last eight years; so here is an opportunity to follow the states—creates a paper trail which an aggrieved occupier is able to trace in order to ascertain whether he or she has been subject to an abuse of the conferred search powers. If such information is kept in the central register, preferably computerised, it can also provide a mechanism for combating forum shopping.

  The Australian Democrats acknowledge that in order for such a register to be successful, it would need to be a nationwide venture which was supported by each state and territory. In the light of this, we have provided that such details, as far as practicable, should be electronically recorded by 1 January 1996. This gives ample time for this matter to be discussed fully by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The notion of a computerised register of warrants has already been proposed by the Criminal Justice Commission in Queensland and is, once again, supported by the Law Society of New South Wales.