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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2537

Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(8.28) —I thank the Attorney for the assurance because without that assurance that we would get support for amendment No. (3) I would be feeling rather nervous at truncating the previous section at three years. I can understand the queries that Senator Hill made of me earlier, but I am conscious, and I think he would be conscious, from the evidence heard during the hearings of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, that this Authority, no matter what we pass here tonight, just will not work unless we have the co-operation of State police forces. Senator Hill may like it or not like it.

Senator Hill —I agree with that.

Senator CHIPP —Yes. We are sometimes a bit sanguine about the co-operation that Costigan got. Sometimes I got carried away to the point where I thought that the Authority would get the same co-operation as Costigan, and that therefore we need not worry. But we do need to worry because since the report of the Committee has been announced I have been in four of the six States and had discussions with the police associations of those States. The sorts of people who belong to the State police associations are the salt of the earth coppers. They are the honest policemen. They have had a career in the police force and they are in the less glamorous side of police association work, fighting for the interests of their members and indeed to ensure that justice ensues in their State. The one thing that all of them are terrified about is that some bungling, bumbling Keystone Kops Federal police force will come into their State and override them on offences which they are singularly well equipped to handle. I wish the Australian Federal Police well in its future endeavours.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Why does everybody think they are smarter than State police?

Senator CHIPP —In answer to that interjection, I do not think we ought to knock the Australian Federal Police. I think we ought to give the Australian Federal Police every encouragement that we can because it is relatively new and has not had the basic opportunities of training in law enforcement and the detection of crime that State police forces have had. At the same time, I can understand the reluctance of the police forces in the States at having an overriding Federal police force coming in and involving itself in an investigation that is already under way. This example was given to me by one police force: 'Let us assume that we are well on the way to detecting the villains in a marihuana or SP bookmaking racket in our State. Let us assume that the Australian Federal Police comes in at an inappropriate time, interferes without knowing that we are already involved, and spoils the investigation'. That is a fear and I believe we have to make a gesture regarding the responsibilities and autonomy of the State police forces in this legislation. I believe this amendment does that and at the same time still gives the National Crime Authority as much power as it ought to have and as it would want to have.