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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6473

Mr WOOD (6:40 PM) —My question is regarding Commonwealth anti-terrorism legislation and preventative detention. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there with the state law-enforcement agencies as to whether they are actually obliged to use Commonwealth legislation in the event that there is a terrorism incident. At the Victorian section of the Australian Crime Commission, I asked a superintendent of the Victorian police, ‘Who would be responsible if there were a terrorist attack in Victoria?’ He said that, even if a terrorist attack had been declared a terrorist incident—and I know you will be definitely involved in that process—the states would actually go back to their state laws and use ‘reasonable time’ to interview a suspect in custody.

I know in preventative detention there is no ability for police to interview a suspect because he is arrested and released under part 1C of the Crimes Act, which is a Commonwealth offence. Can you please give some clarity on what the state police forces should be doing? Can they use their own state legislation or are they obliged to use the Commonwealth legislation? I would hate to see the situation take place that, God forbid we do have a terrorist attack, there is confusion as to whether the states should use Commonwealth or state legislation.

Could you just update us on the situation that the Prime Minister announced in his address last year to parliament, saying that he would consider establishing a national security college and a national crisis coordination centre? I would be very interested to find out where the government is up to regarding that. Also, I am greatly concerned that the air marshals program is being cut—obviously for security reasons, we do not talk about the number of members involved. The information I am receiving about members who are performing duties as air marshals is that on paper they are supposed to be doing hours in the air but, instead, they have been seconded to other duties. Can you assure me and the House that this is not occurring; that air marshals are actually performing air marshal duties? Additionally, there appears to be no future funding in the 2009-10 budget for the air marshals program. Will you commit to continuing the program?

Finally, in the 2009-10 AFP’s budget, it says that the special operations program will be cut by $8.1 million, the counter-terrorism program by $1.4 million and the intelligence program by $3.2 million. All of this greatly concerns me considering the Rudd government did announce during the election that they would increase the AFP by an additional 500 members. I know that was staggered over a period of five years, but it appears that there is a net increase of only four police officers, at this stage.