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Friday, 23 November 1979
Page: 2947

Senator EVANS (Victoria) -The Opposition has circulated a proposed amendment to clause 4, which is in substitution of a provision in the Customs Amendment Bill (No. 4) 1979.I shall explain it as succinctly as I can. The amendment relates to section 2 19 Bof the Customs Act, as proposed to be amended by this Bill. That section, when amended, would limit the circumstances under which Australian Federal Police officers could use listening devices for the purposes of narcotics inquiries, but the amending clause mentions nothing about the use of listening devices by such officers in relation to other offences. At the moment the reality is that the use of listening devices by Australian police officers is sanctioned by State law.

The Opposition believes that it is inappropriate that powers as significant as powers involved in the use of listening devices should be exercised by Commonwealth officers pursuant to State laws. If the Commonwealth proposes by future legislation to vest in Australian Federal Police officers a power to use listening devices in relation to non-narcotics offences, that is something which we can debate in that context at another time. But for the moment the Opposition takes the view that this opportunity should be grasped to limit the power of Australian Federal Police officers to install and utilise listening devices to narcotics offences and to remove the power to use listening devices in non-narcotics areas. That is the substance of paragraph (a) of the proposed amendment. Paragraph (b) simply repeats the proposed provision in the existing Bill. I move:

Page 2, clause 4, lines 14 and 15, leave out all words after amended', insert the following paragraphs:

(a)   by omitting from sub-section ( 1 ) "for the purpose of narcotics inquiries that are being made by officers of Customs"; and

(b)   by inserting in sub-section (2) "narcotics" before "inquiries".'.

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