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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2453

Senator MISSEN(8.30) —I rise to discuss the National Crime Authority Bill 1983 and its consequent Bill. I am afraid I do not do it with the same sunny optimism that my colleague Senator Hill does because I believe that this Bill as it stands, and as the Government proposes to put it forward, could be a disastrous experience for the Australian people, a betrayal of what they expect of this Parliament. Whether the legislation will be better than that depends very much on what this Senate does. I do not need to go to the question of organised crime and the extent to which it is a menace in this community. That is accepted; that evidence was clear before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs and has been clear before a number of royal commissions over recent years. It is clear from the decisions and recommendations of judges of great eminence who recognise the great and growing power which sophisticated and organised crime has and the damage it is doing in the community, both by its refusal to allow people to go about their ordinary ways and ordinary businesses and because of corruption in administrative circles .

A number of people have talked about the protection of civil liberties and how a national crimes commission-which is what I would like to think we will call it ; I am glad this Bill does not call it a 'commission' because this is a shadow of a commission-would interfere with civil liberties. However, I would like to think that such a body would protect the liberties of the people. Indeed, I put it to this chamber that the real privileges of the people and the civil liberties which we have, are the liberties to go about our daily lives, to know that we are not corrupted or enforced to take particular actions and are not intimidated in our business affairs, and to know also that our government organisation and the judiciary are not corrupted. We know there is some corruption in the magistry already; how far away is it from higher judicial areas. We know there is corruption; we only have to read newspapers and records of crime investigations to see to what extent there has already been corruption within administration in this country. Therefore, that is the major civil liberty in this country. In regard to the other civil rights which we are designing to protect, in some respects we may have to forgo some privileges in the interests of the basic civil liberties of this country. We may have to give to some men who we hope will be men of quality and ability opportunities to investigate and to fight organised crime in such a way that they have to have adequate powers and not be limited to the extent that they are ineffective in that fight.

Senator Gareth Evans —They might be women.

Senator MISSEN —Yes, and women. If we have five members or commissioners I hope that we will have the opportunity to have women as well as men. There is no reason why this legislation should be sexist in any way.

There are two things by which this Bill-and I take the Bill to include the amendments that the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) now puts forward- should be tested, and I want to look briefly at them. One is the National Crimes Commission Bill of 1982-the Durack Bill-which now, if I may use the expression which comes out of the tapes, is coming up 'smelling like roses'. After the investigation we have done as a Senate committee we see that the provisions in that Durack Bill are sound. There is absolutely no reason why that Bill should not have been proclaimed by the incoming Hawke Government and it is a dereliction of duty that it has not done so. If it wanted to amend it later it could have done so.

One significant point in regard to that legislation is evident when we look at the report of Sir Edward Williams. Honourable senators will remember that he was appointed by the previous Government to head this commission. He went all around the country to investigate the matter and saw all kinds of people, and he said that there was no reason why the commission should not come into operation. I invite honourable senators to look at the long letter which he wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on 22 December 1983 in which he set out the results of his investigations. Of course he was sent packing; he was sent back to continue his judicial work and was not required to go on with the organisation of this commission and bring it into operation. But it is clear from the contents of his report that it was practical and operational and should have been brought into force. This Government has a lot to answer for not doing so.

Secondly, we can test this present Bill by the experience in the last three to four years of the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, a commission which has used new methods of tracing and unveiling the organised crime figures of this country. It has a very good record and the present Government agrees with that; it has constantly said that. Even Mick Young said it the other day in the other House. There is no doubt that that Commission has exposed, by the use of modern computerised methods, a great deal that would not otherwise have come to light.

It is important above all things that we carry on that good work, and when the Costigan Commission comes to an end-and of course it operates under a rather restrictive reference at present-it will be replaced by a commission, or authority if you like, which has at least equal powers, which at least can be as competent, and which can expand its operations over those very areas of organised crime that the Costigan Commission has not been able to tackle because they do not relate in any way to the painters and dockers. So it is very important to test this Bill. This was evidence brought before the Committee; evidence which I regret to say was substantially ignored by the majority report. The evidence was such that the commission as it stands in this legislation could not possibly continue the work of the Costigan Commission. One should realise what people thought about the previous Bill. I want to read to the Senate remarks made by Senator Chipp who, I am afraid, seems to have lost a lot of interest in the fight against organised crime.

Senator Chipp —That is an absolute lie.

Senator MISSEN —That is my impression and I am very sorry to see that.

The PRESIDENT —Senator Chipp, you will withdraw that remark.

Senator Chipp —I have no intention of withdrawing. If a man tells a lie about you in this place you should have the right to say so.

The PRESIDENT —Order! You are not allowed to put it in those terms in this chamber. You will withdraw the remark.

Senator Chipp —In deference to you, Mr President, and in utter contempt of Senator Missen, I withdraw the remark.

Senator MISSEN —Mr President, I proceed to quote from what Senator Chipp said on 17 November 1983. I hope he will stick to what he said and support firmly these things, but this is not evident in the way he has accepted recommendations of the Senate Committee. He said:

In fact all Australian Democrats are in favour of an effective national crimes commission and we all voted for it, for a model that maybe had some shortcomings , but a model which I thought was first class-the so-called Fraser-Durack model. If we are accused of holding up legislation to fight organised crime I simply say to the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) that he has a Bill right at this moment that has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament and all it needs to implement that particular Crime Authority is to get in a car and go out to Yarralumla.

I like that sort of expression. I felt, at that stage, that Senator Chipp was showing a realistic attitude of what was needed here. Even at that time Senator Gareth Evans recognised certain things about the Bill when he gave general support to it, although it is true he voted against the third reading of the Bill because some of his amendments were not carried. To recall what he said, he made it clear that he did not believe in the necessity of having joint responsibility. He did not want joint responsibility to more than one parliament . Of course this Bill is absolutely loaded with joint responsibility. It is a responsibility to an amorphous committee of Ministers who are given all this power-

Senator Gareth Evans —Nonsense, you have not read the Bill.

Senator MISSEN —Of course I have read the Bill. You are being a silly ass, Senator, in saying that. I have read it many times. It is a fact that this Bill divides responsibility. It will divide and conquer, and the conquerors of course will be the organised crime experts of this community. Let me remind the Senate too that when this Bill was sent to the Committee I found great clarity in Senator Chipp's expression of what was wrong with the Bill.

On 16 November 1983 Senator Chipp said that:

. . . all the Australian Democrats were in favour of a crimes authority with teeth . . .

He said:

We already lent our support to the 1982 Crimes Commission Bill which was passed by both Houses but was not proclaimed. Although we sympathise with the Government's difficulties-clearly it lacks the co-operation of State governments and this became apparent during the crimes commission conference-it does not advance the fight against organised crime to pass a Bill with fatal flaws which will make it a toothless tiger.

That is excellent stuff and it is right. Nor should we do it at this time. He then went on to say, what were his major objections. We must test whether he sticks to these objections in the debate on this Bill. He said:

Under the provisions of the present Bill: the authority may not initiate inquiries, but may investigate only if a matter has been referred to it by the ministerial committee. I hope we are going to stand firm on that and see that there is the power of initiation by this authority to open up its own inquiries.

He continued:

. . . a reference may be stopped by a State if the matter concerned is an offence against the law of that State; i.e., a right of veto. References may be made only for offences carrying a penalty of three years imprisonment or more ( excludes many offences).

Of course it does. It excludes many offences that a number of the State Ministers do not want examined by this Commission. He then went on to say:

. . . references may not be made unless the Committee is satisfied that ' ordinary police methods of investigation . . . are not likely to be effective'.

That is what the Government has rejected. He then said:

. . . while it is necessary for the authority to be able to order private hearings and to prohibit publication where this is necessary (an appeal should be available from the authority's decision) it also removes the defence of 'fair and accurate reporting' for any material published from a hearing, including a public hearing-this removes the factor of public pressure which has led to many inquiries.

I remind him of those statements. I think that is a matter that we should be very concerned with. He concludes by saying:

Accordingly we believe that a Senate standing committee should be available to examine the provisions of the Bill to determine how best to achieve the stated objectives of the Bill and to recommend improvements.

At that time Senator Evans was very critical of this Bill being sent to a Senate committee, as honourable senators may well recall. What did he say on 17 November 1983? He is reported as follows in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Senator Evans said last night that the committee was a 'nonsense exercise' which was unlikely to come up with any acceptable proposals to strengthen the Bill. It's a cheap political point-scoring, cheap obstruction that I am afraid is becoming all too familiar', he said.

Well, he has had to eat those words, has he not? When the Committee came down with the report, a report which was good on analysis but, regrettably, rather weak on solutions, he said:

. . . it would appear that the general thrust of the report is not likely to cause the Government any particular difficulty. There are, however, a number of matters of detail which the Government and the parliamentary party will certainly need to consider closely.

I will soon come to the fact that he had a big change of heart a week or so after that. At least he found that the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, led by his own colleague, was doing something quite sensible and reasonable, but at first he said it was a nonsensical exercise as we have heard.

As I have said, the report has been brought down. The report also contains a minority report which I issued. Honourable senators will remember how Senator Evans sneered when he concluded that I was alone in this. He sees now from the forty amendments which are before the Chair which the Opposition is moving that I am no longer in any way alone. He will see that those amendments have been accepted and have been put forward by the Opposition. They cover practically all the matters I raised as major objections to the Bill as it stood. Without going into great detail about them, the 40 amendments of which Senator Durack has given notice would make this Bill into one of which we could be proud, one which could be effective and one which would achieve the objectives we seek.

Since then, of course, the Government has come down with a number of other alterations. It is very interesting that within two hours of the report being tabled, Senator Evans was able to say that he could see no objection to it. But after he had been to the meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, after he had got the advice from the right wing of the Labor Party in New South Wales, after he had got the advice and the demands of the New South Wales Attorney-General, Mr Landa, and the Attorneys-General at their meeting-

Senator Gareth Evans —I ended up accepting 39 out of 49. You withdraw that.

Senator MISSEN —The Attorney-General makes anyone suspicious, when he starts talking about numbers. He has rejected major objections of vital importance to this Bill. I have done an analysis of the alterations which the Government has made-the acceptances of the Committee's recommendations, the major rejections, the minor rejections, the new provisions which it has brought in and the ' modifications' of the Senate Committee recommendations. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the analysis which I have prepared.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-


The Attorney-General's response to the Senate Committee Report indicates, in his terms, 31 acceptances of recommendations, 8 accepted with ''modification'' and 10 totally rejected. Naturally, the Government has totally ignored the 8 major objections which I have made to the legislation in my Minority Report.

Recommendation No. 32-Acceptances include (1) the denial of the right of the new Authority to call any public evidence (new Clause 21 (9) and (11))

Recommendation No. 25-(2) the acceptance of the wide open ''use derivative use' ' indemnity proposed by the Senate Committee (new Clause 25 (5) and (7)).

I would suggest that both these acceptances greatly prejudice the effectiveness of the proposed Authority.

Major Rejections

Recommendation No. 15-(1) Commonwealth references. The approval by the inter- governmental Committee of such references is still required. (new Clause 11 (a))

Recommendation No. 17-(2) Withdrawal of Commonwealth references. The Senate Committee recommended affirmative action by both Houses of Parliament if the Commonwealth Attorney-General proposed to withdraw a reference. This is rejected and the only requirement is that the withdrawal be placed in the Gazette and tabled in the Parliament (new Clause 11 (4))

Recommendation No. 36-(3) Sittings to be conducted by at least two members of the Authority (this was rejected by the Government and I agree with the soundness of that rejection).

Recommendation No. 37 and 38-(4) Recommendation that both judicial audit and the Ombudsman's involvement in the Authority's affairs be deleted. Both these possible obstructions of the Authority's activities are insisted on by the Government (see Clauses 47 and 44)

Recommendation No. 49-(5) Renaming of the Authority as the Australian Crime Commission has been rejected (Clause 1)

Less Significant Rejections

Recommendation No. 19-(6) The Senate Committee recommendation was that the inter-governmental Committee should take into account whether ordinary police methods of investigation were likely to be effective but it was not to be a requirement. The Government has rejected this and insists upon the inter- governmental Committee being satisfied (Clause 9 (2))

Recommendation No. 20 (a) and (b)-(7) Recommendation for a limited right to electronic voting by the inter-governmental Committee and also a requirement that the delegation of powers of the inter-governmental Committee should be to a Minister only. Both these recommendations, firstly to assist in urgent cases and secondly to ensure that it does not become a bureaucratic body, are rejected by the Government.

Recommendation No. 31-(8) Proposed power of arrest by order of a judicial officer, where there are reasonable grounds for believing a person is about to leave Australia to avoid giving evidence to the Authority, has been rejected ( Clause 20).

Modifications of Senate Recommendations

Recommendation No. 25-(1) The proposed indemnity to be given to witnesses claiming protection against self-incrimination was a ''use derivative-use'' indemnity but, while the Government has accepted this extraordinarily wide indemnity, it has rejected the proposal that the Authority make determinations on the abrogation of the privilege. (Clause 25 (5) and (7))

Recommendation No. 2-(2) The definition of ''relevant offence'' has been retained and the requirement that the functions of the Authority are limited to crimes involving a maximum of three years imprisonment, is insisted on (thus the Government's claim that this is accepted with modification is untrue). (See Clause 4 (h)-Definition of relevant offence.)

Recommendation No. 21 (b)-(3) The fact that references are rejected by the inter-governmental Committee can only be included in the Annual Report if the inter-governmental Committee is satisfied to that effect (Clause 48 (4) A)

Recommendation No. 30 (b)-(4) The seizure of other material obtained on warrant where that material would assist law enforcement agencies, has been rejected ( Clause 18 (1)).

Recommendation No. 42 (a) and (b)-(5) The proposal denying ministerial directions in relation to particular cases, and also in respect to guidelines- the Senate Committee recommendation is rejected and it can only be done if the inter-governmental Committee unanimously agrees (16 (1A), (2) and (3))

Recommendation No. 29-(6) The provisions in the Consequential Bill relating to tax information are very limited and do not comply with the Senate Committee proposal and are limited both as to the obtaining of information, particularly in respect to ordinary investigations, and also limited as to the passing on of such material to prosecuting authorities. (See the amendments to Clause 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act contained in this Bill).

There are two other important matters in connection with the major Bill which require attention.

(1) There is a new provision (Clause 10 (2) and Clause 10 (a) (i) A and B and 10 (a) (ii) A and B). This is a prohibition against the Authority or its officers interviewing persons if they are suspected of having committed an offence. It is also a restriction on the officers of the Australian Federal Police and State Police. It makes the work of the Authority inoperable.

(2) There are problems in connection with the granting of State references to the Authority that were received in advice by the Senate Committee but not acted on by it. I have referred to them in my Minority Report Chapter 4 (n) page 126. There are Constitutional difficulties that arise if the States do not adopt mirror legislation providing precisely the same powers to the Authority when it is dealing with State references. As was pointed out to us, there is a real possibility of constitutional difficulty arising where States give different powers to the Authority and it is acting on a mixed reference. It may then hear some evidence which it has not got power to hear in connection with certain of the States. This matter must be taken up.


Senator for Victoria

22nd May 1984

Senator MISSEN —I thank the Senate. I hope that honourable senators will look closely at that because they will see that in fact there are many vital--

Senator Chipp —We are bound to. I have to be restrained from getting at it.

Senator MISSEN —I ask Senator Chipp please to be restrained because there is a long debate ahead of him and he wants to keep his calm.

I want to look for a moment at why the change in the Government attitude was needed. Why was it that the Government, which found no problem at first with these recommendations, very quickly after had a meeting with the Attorneys- General and found that a great deal of change was needed.

Last week in the National Times there was an article headed 'Operation Evans Runs out of Steam'. I do not agree with that at all. I think he has been steamrolled, which is a different thing altogether. I am sure that deep down he has the same views.

Senator Chipp —That's a clever pun. They are rolling thick and fast now.

Senator MISSEN —I thank Senator Chipp. Praise from him is something. We know, do we not, that the right wing-of which Senator Evans is a member-in New South Wales has done this. It is not the civil libertarians in his party; it is those clever, pragmatic men of New South Wales who have so often rolled him in the last year of two. They have rolled his consititional changes and removed for temporary purposes anyway his human rights proposals. They have taken so much out of the legislative program for the time being and have rolled him entirely on this. We know that in the meeting of Attorneys-General, which was held a few days after this report came down, it was actually Mr Landa, the New South Wales Attorney-General, who did all the talking. I wonder why. He was the one who was demanding, pushing and shoving. He was the one--

Senator Gareth Evans —Were you there?

Senator MISSEN —I was not there, Senator, no.

Senator Gareth Evans —You are remarkably ill-informed.

Senator MISSEN —That is what I am told. If I am wrong, Senator Evans can tell us so. I understand that the Victorian Attorney-General did not turn up on that day . He came the next day. It was New South Wales, Mr Landa, who did all this. Some of these amendments, particularly the one that has crept in and that I will say something about later-the one that denies to the crimes authority any right to interview people-are extraordinary. Proposed new section 10 A (4) states that no member of the Authority nor a member of the staff is able to find out what evidence is going to be given. They have to throw it into the Commission and see what they get. What royal commission in the history of this country has been under such restrictions? Where do we find in the Evans documents a description of where that provision came from and why it is in there? There is no description at all because that is a Landa creation. It is to ensure that this authority will be unable to get off the ground. That is a very interesting and significant change. It has resulted from the pressure of the right wing and the Government backers. It has come from the pressure also of Mr Kerry Packer who has been running around the country with great determination to get this feeble Bill through and to get rid of the Costigan Royal Commission.

Senator Gareth Evans —You will say anything under the cover of privilege. You will say anything that comes into your sordid little mind.

Senator MISSEN —Let us talk about what the Attorney-General has said. Apparently he disputes this in some way. As he knows, last Wednesday I asked a series of questions of the Attorney-General about the influence--

Senator Gareth Evans —And you got an answer straight away.

Senator MISSEN —I did not get it right away. I got some of it and some the following day. My question asked whether Mr Kerry Packer, as I am sure is the fact, had exercised pressure on the Government. It is certainly so with regard to the Opposition members and senators; he has been exercising pressure on them. Is the Attorney-General telling me he is not exercising pressure on Government members and senators to ensure that the Bill stays as weak as it is at the moment and is passed quickly and that Costigan passses into history and cannot complete his present inquiries? That is so.

Senator Chipp —Are you prepared to say that outside the door?

Senator MISSEN —The honourable senator will not stop me from saying things that need to be said in this debate, no matter what he may want. I refer to the Attorney-General's answer to me on that occasion. This will go down in the record whether I am shouted down or not. The Attorney-General said that he had not had any representations, either directly or indirectly, from Mr Kerry Packer ; nor had Mr Mick Young.

Senator Durack —Nor had any other Minister.

Senator MISSEN —He could not tell me. He thought the other Ministers had not. He proceeded to say that they had not been approached. We all know the people who have been going round making representations like mad- Mr Malcolm Turnbull, the counsel for Kerry Packer. He has been in touch with many people.

Senator Tate —To whom?

Senator MISSEN —The honourable senator does not know him?

Senator Tate —I said 'To whom?'

Senator MISSEN —To many people, including honourable senators in this place. Some of them have acknowledged it to me. What does the man call himself? It is not the injudicious bystander; he is the 'Officious Bystander' of the Bulletin- the man whom I replied to this week. This man has been doing a lot of inquiring. In Canberra Mr Richard Farmer, who is well known as a representative of the Australian Labor Party and a supporter of that Party, has been making strong representations. I go back to the answer which the Attorney-General gave me.

Senator Durack —Who has Mr Farmer been speaking to?

Senator MISSEN —That would be interesting to find out. That is unfinished business, Senator. We will have to find out who, among the Government, that was. Many people have had a lot to do with the Government. The day after this answer was given by the Attorney-General he put in, at the end of Question Time, an answer to the rest of my question in relation to the other--

Senator Gareth Evans —Senile paranoia.

Senator MISSEN —The Attorney-General is unhappy about this, is he not? He was very downtrodden on the day I asked the question. Later he gave me an answer. Unfortunately, the Age newspaper, which has been very acute in this matter, mistook his answer and said that no Federal Government Minister had been approached by the media proprietor, Mr Kerry Packer, over the National Crime Authority legislation or the Costigan royal commission. I have not noticed him actually correcting that answer, because that was a mistake. Let us look at the answer he made. This might be another Evans mistake. I do not put it down as that. I think it was a deliberate obfuscation of the Senate when he said:

Yesterday Senator Missen asked a question about the National Crime Authority and certain representations which he believed may have been made. In answering him I undertook to ask of my ministerial colleagues whether they were aware of any direct or indirect representations made by Mr Kerry Packer in relation to the National Crime Authority legislation.

There was no reference to the removal of the Costigan inquiry. He said:

I have asked that question of all of my ministerial colleagues, except Mr Hayden who of course is overseas and has been for most of the period in question . In each case the answer to me has been no.

Does the Attorney now suggest to me that that was just a slip of the tongue in that he did not mention the other part of the question? No, he has not answered that at all.

Senator Gareth Evans —Say that outside the Parliament.

Senator MISSEN —The Attorney can come into the Parliament and answer the whole of the question and not part of the question. I am interested in the Attorney's raving reaction, which is not to be unexpected.

Let me say this: It is, of course, the desire of people who are backing the right wing of the Labor Party. It is time the people on the left wing of the Labor Party and those in the centre left realised that they have been taken for a ride and that they are being besmirched by the desire of people in the New South Wales right wing to whom the Attorney owes allegiance and must obey. They are the people who must be obeyed. We must realise that members of the left wing and the centre left of the Labor Party are being taken down by those people. They have a desire to stop Mr Costigan from completing his inquiry. They desire a weak Bill.

It is very interesting that in New South Wales the State Government introduced a Bill of its own called the Special Commissions of Inquiry Bill 1983.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston) —Senator Missen, I must interrupt you. There were some interjections from my right which were clearly in breach of standing order 418. I have not brought attention to them because to do so would be to have them inserted in Hansard which would serve no purpose. I remind those on my right of standing order 418.

Senator MISSEN —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I am not very worried by that.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr Acting Deputy President--

Senator Durack —Don't waste his time. Sit down.

Senator Gareth Evans —I am perfectly happy to give him an extension of time for however long he wants to continue this raving lunacy. I raise a point of order. This sort of gross misrepresentation that is persisting from Senator Missen deserves the kind of response that it has been getting. To the extent that Senator Missen has acknowledged the interjections I take it, Mr Acting Deputy President, that your ruling does not mean there is any suggestion of those interjections being removed from the Hansard.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —The point I have made is that interjections were made which were clearly in breach of standing order 418. I presume they are not in the Hansard because they were not responded to. I do not want them to go into the Hansard because I do not think that any purpose would be served in having them in. There is no point of order.

Senator Gareth Evans —I take a further point of order. Mr Acting Deputy President, I draw your attention to the standing order which prohibits honourable members and senators casting reflections and aspersions on other members of this place. To suggest that members are on the receiving end of some kind of bribery, corruption, intimidation, duress or whatever and are gearing their legislative reactions to such duress, intimidation or corruption is one of the grosser infringements of that standing order that I can recall. I regard it as offensive. I seek a withdrawal in general terms of those imputations. If the honourable senator will not make such a withdrawal I request from the Chair direction which will ensure that those sorts of imputations are not repeated as this debate proceeds.

Senator MISSEN —Mr Acting Deputy President, I have made no such allegation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I have been listening carefully. I will protect the rights of honourable senators.

Senator MISSEN —I was referring to the fact that at the same time as the New South Wales right wing is endeavouring to nobble this Bill, it is going ahead with a special commissions of inquiry Bill, something to which they committed themselves during the last State election.

Senator Sibraa —Why did they do that?

Senator MISSEN —Because it would turn the heat away from them at the time of the election which was getting very difficult. It is very interesting that they are objecting to the very things here that are contained in the New South Wales Bill . The New South Wales legislation allows the commissioner to sit in public. People are required to give answers. They do not have the right to refuse and to take objection. There is power which compels them to do certain things. The fact that those provisions are contained in the New South Wales Bill means that their attitude is absolutely inconsistent with the line which they are taking and the line which has been enforced by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.

Senator Sibraa —This was put-up or shut-up legislation and they shut up.

Senator MISSEN —It was shut-up legislation, was it? It is shut-up legislation all right.

Senator Sibraa —That is why Greiner never went on with it.

Senator MISSEN —I think the honourable senator is right. The desire is really to get at the people who are making investigations and shut them up in New South Wales rather than find out whether the allegations are true. That is another debate for a different parliament at a different time.

What I want to say is that what we are dealing with now is government changes to this legislation which will leave the legislation fatally flawed if they go through. I hope that all honourable senators have read the excellent articles which the Age newspaper produced last week under headings such as 'Crime Our watchdog has no teeth' and 'Why National Crime Authority is doomed'.

Senator Gareth Evans —You will tell us about their authorship, I take it, Senator?

Senator MISSEN —Senator Evans will want to turn it into a personal matter because he does not want to debate the argument. The arguments in those impeccable articles are the highest examples of the Age, as one of our finest newspapers, doing its public duty. The Attorney-General had a miserable reply. I suggest that honourable senators read his miserable reply in which he endeavoured to defend things such as the three years clause, that there has to be a crime for which a penalty of three years imprisonment applies. It was desired by Mr Landa that that provision not apply to SP bookmaking in New South Wales, because it never called for a penalty of three years. That provision, as well as other things, would ensure that that would not come about. The Attorney- General defends that by saying: 'If it is connected with another crime for which a penalty of more than three years imprisonment applies, we can deal with it'. If we have not got that crime it is bad luck. It is a desire to cut down the area of investigation by the Crime Authority. It will be successful unless people in this chamber, including the Australian Democrats, stand up firmly on this and other matters.

The Sydney Morning Herald has pointed out that this Bill will satisfy no one. When one looks at the amendments which the Attorney-General wants to put in the Bill one will see that it is not a matter of accident but one of design that the Authority is hedged around with all kinds of restrictions such as the enormously creaky business of an inter-governmental committee which will have plenty of advance warning. It might as well be advertised in the daily newspapers that there will be an investigation. It will never get off the ground if it has to go through that procedure. I seek a short extension in accordance with the Attorney -General's-

Senator Chipp —I move an extension of time for Senator Missen of four minutes.

Senator Gareth Evans —Lest it be thought there is any disposition on the part of the Government to deny Senator Missen time through the points of order that I took, I would be happy to second that motion.

Extension of time granted.

Senator MISSEN —I thank the Senate, and I will be very brief. I believe that the hedging around of this authority by the obstruction of the all powerful intergovernmental committee and the creation of a judicial audit to interfere- incompetent as Costigan and others pointed out it would be-as well as the Ombudsman's meddling, would be disastrous. He could ask any questions and disclose any secret information and it would be disastrous. What is more, as I raise in this document that I have incorporated, there is the possibility of constitutional challenge because of the different powers which might be given to this Commission by different States on different references, and there are indeed in this Bill all kinds of opportunities for obstruction of the Commission .

I regret that we are not taking up this point, that we are not insisting on some right of public hearing so that an authority can also have an opportunity of appealing to the public over and above the Government's. Of course the Age editorial of this week makes that point very clear. There are, indeed, a great number of problems in regard to this authority. If we in the Opposition succeed in getting most of our 40 amendments through, public hearings would not matter. If we fail in that I believe we will need to have more than the joint committee, which is a desirable thing, to investigate and find out what is going wrong and why it is not working so we can tell the Australian people.

I repeat what I said in the Bulletin this week, that the things that are still wrong with this Bill and which need to be amended are:

The quite inadequate definition of the authority's powers and functions.

The excessive powers of a cumbersome and 'leaking' inter-governmental committee , to deny coercive powers of inquiry to the authority and to veto many of its investigations.

An absurd division between 'ordinary' powers of investigation and 'special' powers-only available after the authority gets a specific reference.

The totally unsatisfactory way of appointing most authority members which would result in poor appointments and maximum strife.

The refusal to create a Joint Parliamentary Committee to monitor carefully the work of the authority (as recommended by Frank Costigan, QC).

I believe that unless we can repair this Bill, unless we can carry most of these amendments-I plead with the Democrats to stick with the fact that we have to have a strong authority here-we would do better not to have this one. We would do better to throw it out. I hope that if we do not succeed we will throw out this Bill. If we do not I hope we and the people will fight it at the end of this year, which will probably be the time of an election, and that this will be an issue on which the people of Australia will realise that they are being betrayed by this Government and that this betrayal deserves nothing but defeat.