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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2472

Senator JESSOP(10.15) —There is no doubt that a National Crime Authority is necessary in Australia. It ought to be a co-ordinating authority to come to grips with major crime in Australia that has become increasingly evident over recent years. As I read it, this Authority is supposed to replace royal commissions which have been found so necessary in recent times. I am worried about the way in which the Government has gone about this. Insufficient consultation has been undertaken with the States--

Senator Gareth Evans —Insufficient! It has been going on for years.

Senator JESSOP —Well, I think so. Two weeks ago the police Ministers met in Melbourne, which honourable senators may recall. I do not know whether the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) has had any feedback from that. But I have. I took the trouble to inquire whether this measure was discussed at that police Ministers conference and the feedback that I had was that they did not find the legislation, plus the amendments, objectionable or defective. But the consensus view, which is apparently the in word at the moment, was that the legislation was generally ineffective and a waste of time. The National Crime Authority Bill that we are dealing with will not be able to combat organised crime. The legislation is being put forward by the Federal Labor Government as a token gesture. The Attorney-General shakes his head.

Senator Gareth Evans —I am shaking my head at the quality of your report.

Senator JESSOP —Well, I have had--

Senator Gareth Evans —The information given to me is that that is wildly inaccurate.

Senator JESSOP —The Attorney-General says that that is wildly inaccurate. He is on record as making statements like that. He should be very careful about talking about wild statements. This happens to come from a reliable source. As I said initially, the legislation, according to the police Ministers, is generally ineffective and a waste of time. However, that is not to say that the States will not co-operate to the best of their ability. But the point I want to make is that if there are any real deficiencies with respect to dealing with major crime it is in the training of police to combat organised crime. I suggest that this Crime Authority will be just a waste of time in the way that we are spending money at present. It is probably more appropriate to spend more money, or the equivalent amount of money, on improving the present police force training program. If the Attorney-General would like to consider that, it may be a better way to go about dealing with the problem. I think that the States--

Senator Gareth Evans —Where have you been for the last decade, Senator?

Senator JESSOP —Of course, we have an enlightened Attorney-General at present. But I believe that the State authorities will co-operate with this Bill, albeit unsatisfactory, ineffective and so on. But I believe that the States share the view that organised crime cannot exist without crooked lawyers and crooked accountants and that any attempt to fight organised crime must realise that fact .

Senator Peter Rae —And cross-eyed optometrists.

Senator JESSOP —My colleague and friend Senator Peter Rae said something about cross-eyed optometrists. Optometrists endeavour to ensure that lawyers in Parliament are long-sighted and have no problem with the extrinsic muscles of the eye. We do our best. I suggest that the Attorney-General consult me about this because sometimes I think that his vision is not as far-sighted as he would like to think it is.

Senator Peter Rae —Dark glasses would be the best thing you could do for him.

Senator JESSOP —I think that the term 'rose coloured glasses' would be better applied to the Attorney-General. He needs rose coloured glasses to look at the future of the present Government of Australia. With respect to the Crime Authority with which we are dealing, I note that the Age of Monday, 4 June wrote an interesting article, part of which stated:

Despite warnings by the Williams Royal Commission in the 1970s, the Queensland coast still appears to be wide open to drug smuggling. That, too, should be a matter of deep public concern. The revelations of the cocaine syndicate's existence once again demonstrate the need for a National Crime Authority with truly effective investigatory powers, and with a capacity to target organisations like the Queensland-based one. Because the Government's crime authority bill enshrines the right of State veto, where breaches of State laws are concerned, it could be that in this particular case the authority, as proposed, would find its hands tied.

As we have said before, the National Crime Authority, if it is to be effective, must have coercive powers. It must also have the power to carry out its investigations without inhibition.

The Attorney-General should take some note of that and have regard to the comments that flow from the police Ministers conference in Melbourne two weeks ago. I think it is very important to have an FBI sort of system-if one can call it that-in Australia. I recall that some years ago the then Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, expressed this view. It is important to have some co- ordinated surveillance and crime authority throughout this country to deal with drug pushing, drug introduction to Australia and the activities of major criminals throughout Australia. I support such a concept. As far as I and many of the State authorities are concerned, this Bill seems to be generally ineffective and it needs to be re-examined. I suggest to the Attorney-General, in the light of experience, that amendments may well have to be made to the National Crime Authority Bill, which we are discussing at the moment, in the future. I earnestly suggest to him that he consult very carefully with State authorities to ensure that the words in the editorial of the Age on Monday 4 June, which I think were carefully worded, have been taken notice of. With those words, I commend the Attorney-General's attention to what I have said about the need to consult with the States in these matters.