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Organised crime and corruption



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P R E S S R E L E A S E

STATEMENT BY THE DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL, SENATOR PETER DURACK, Q.C.

"The threat posed by organised crime and official

corruption is one of the most serious Australian society

has ever had to confront," the Shadow Attorney-General and

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator

P'eter Durack, said today.

"Yet in the face of this clearly identified national

crisis, the Hawke Government has failed to produce the

national response so urgently required.

"Despite the firm assertion of the Prime Minister in

May that an effective national crimes commission would be

operating by the beginning of next year, the Government's

proposal for a crimes authority is currently bogged down

in the Labor Caucus.

"The Attorney-General is battling to salvage something

respectable and workable in the face of a coalition of back­

bench forces determined on major changes.

"It is rapidly getting to the stage -where we should be

asking not when but if Australia will ever see an effective

organisation set up to combat the menace of organised crime."

Senator Durack today brought an urgency motion before

the Senate calling on the Hawke Government to establish a

national crimes authority without further delay.

"The Fraser Government put legislation through the

Commonwealth Parliament last year to establish a National

Crimes Commission but it has never been proclaimed by Labor,"

he said.

"jhe Opposition has been prepared to give the Government

time to consider its approach to this crucial problem and we

have not been dogmatically insisting on adherence to every

aspect of the Crimes Commission legislation.

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24/83

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"But the community can no longer be asked to tolerate

the shifts and starts, delays and indecision whic)^ has

plagued the Government's consideration of this issue.

"It is five months since the Prime Minister's promise,

three months since a national seminar on the subject and y e t ,

more than half way through the Budget session, Parliament is

yet to see proof that the Government will back words with

action.

The Attorney-General has claimed that we now have the

worst of all possible worlds with a Continuing royal commission

acting as a crimes commission but without the safeguards,

checks and balances which he believes should apply. Today

we have a report that there is likely to be a squabble

between the Attorney and the Special Minister of State for

control of the Government's crime b ody, should it ever see

the light of d a y .

g ,

"Every Royal Commissioner who has investigated organised

crime over recent years has appealed for an initiative by the

national government.

"Last week, Special Prosecutor Redlich added his voice

when he called for a ‘ robust, independent national authority1

to tackle what he believes is a 'national crisis'.

"The former Government did respond to this concern,

not only by legislating for a crimes commission but through

the appointment of special prosecutors and joint task forces.

"The Government's lethargy stands in marked contrast to

that record.

*****

CANBERRA 18 OCTOBER 1983 24/1983

Enquiries: Mr Keith Kessell - 062/73 2026

Printed bv C. J. THOMPSON. Commonwealth Government printer Canberra