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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 194

Senator SPINDLER (12.04 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

7.After clause 24, page 18, insert the following clause:

  Issue of Commonwealth identity documents by Departments

"24A.(1)Subject to section 24, a Commonwealth identity document may only be issued in accordance with written arrangement between the Commissioner and the secretary of the Department responsible for issuing that document.

    "(2)Without limiting the matters to which such an arrangement may relate, an arrangement may relate to:

      (a)the procedures to be adopted for requesting the issue of the Commonwealth identity document for the purposes of the NWPP; and

      (b)guidelines for the issue of the document and other related documents.

9.After clause 28, page 20, insert the following new clause:

Reports and information for the Minister

"28A.(1)The Commissioner must keep the Minister informed of:

      (a)the general operations, performance and effectiveness of the NWPP; and

      (b)the written arrangements entered into under section 24A for the issue of Commonwealth identity documents.

    "(2)In consultation with the Commissioner, the Minister must prepare, and cause to be laid before each House of the Parliament, an annual report on the matters referred to in paragraph (1)(a) and (b) in a manner which does not prejudice the effectiveness or security of the NWPP.".

These amendments relate to the area of the commissioner obtaining identity papers and other documentation to protect the person placed under the witness protection program. The bill is silent at this stage on how that request is formally made and documented. In that process—and I am sure that a certain custom has developed as well here—the commissioner is asking other departments, whether they be passport people or people in Social Security, to issue documents which on their face are not proper documents. They are not true documents. They are being issued to cover a false identity.

  We believe that, for the protection of the people under the program, for the protection of the public servants in the other departments and for the protection of the commissioner, this matter needs to be spelt out. If the government is not prepared to accept the amendments as they stand, I would appreciate the minister addressing this issue: how is this part of the witness protection program handled?