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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2593

Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(10.39) —With one exception last night, this debate has been conducted without heat. I confess, however, that the kind of response that the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) has given to this amendment makes me a little angry because the Liberals and Democrats want to amend the original clause. It has been truthfully said that those of us who voted for the recommendation in regard to the intergovernmental committee of Ministers did so with a few misgivings because while civil liberties would be protected and the States would be encouraged to participate the administration of the National Crime Authority would be made more unwieldy than it might have been. That was a sacrifice I was prepared to make to ensure that we get the co-operation of the States with respect to the National Crime Authority because without that co-operation the arrangement will not work. I believe that the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, with the exception of one person, was of that view.

Clause 9 (2), which Senator Hill, the Liberals and the Democrats wish to amend, reads as follows:

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--

there is an onus placed on the Committee-

ordinary police methods of investigation into the matter are not likely to be effective.

Therefore, the Committee has to satisfy itself that the police could not handle this matter. I would have thought that in most cases that would put an impossible task on the committee. All that we are saying and all that Senator Hill is saying in his amendment, which I would have thought was entirely reasonable, is that the Committee should, before approving a reference, consider whether ordinary police methods of investigation into a matter are likely to be effective. I am puzzled why the Attorney-General is so adamant in his opposition to this. To me, the logic overwhelmingly demands that the Liberal and Democrat amendment be accepted. Yet, we have this intransigence even in the face of what I believe was a unanimous recommendation of the Standing Committee on this point . We were not unanimous on everything but on this point, Liberal, Labor and Democrat members were unanimous that it was intolerable to put this hurdle before the intergovernmental committee before it can approve a reference to the Authority. For those reasons, I support the amendment moved by Senator Hill on behalf of the Liberal Party with all the force that I have.