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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2592

Senator HILL(10.33) —I move:

Page 7, clause 9, sub-clause (2), lines 10 to 14, leave out the sub-clause, insert the following sub-clause:

'(2) The Committee shall, before approving a reference, consider whether ordinary police methods of investigation into the matter are likely to be effective.'.

This is a recommendation of the Committee. The words are similar to those of the amendment that was circulated by Senator Chipp. They seem to be simply in a different order. I advise the Committee that the current provision in clause 9 ( 2) of the Bill provides:

The Committee shall not approve the reference to the Authority of a matter unless the Committee, after considering any action taken, or capable of being taken, by law enforcement agencies into the matter, is satisfied that ordinary police methods of investigation into the matter are not likely to be effective.

The spirit of that sub-clause is presumably that it would be undesirable for the National Crime Authority to be simply duplicating work that could otherwise be effectively carried out by existing police forces using existing methods. The Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs accepts the spirit of that provision. It says that it is wholly desirable. However, the Committee is concerned with the drafting of the sub-clause. We believe that an unfair onus is being placed on the intergovernmental committee, in effect to make a preliminary determination which is really impossible.

I reflect upon the comments I made in my speech in the second reading debate, when I reminded honourable senators of the facts in relation to the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union. If the advice had been received from the Victorian police force-given in all due honesty-that it could effectively handle that matter, a whole new network of organised crime would have never been uncovered. It is reasonable to assume that if a police force is asked whether it feels it can reasonably handle particular criminal activities, the answer is always yes. That is a matter of human nature. We expect that under the Government's clause at present the course of action that the intergovernmental committee would adopt would be to ask the police forces whether they could handle the matter. As I have indicated, the answer is always likely to be yes and the reference will not proceed because the onus has been placed in that way in the sub-clause.

The Senate Committee said that a better course of action would be to require the inter-governmental committee to consider whether ordinary police methods of investigation into the matter were likely to be effective. That is, in effect, the provision that the Committee came up with and that I am now proposing in this amendment.