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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2638

Senator DURACK(3.57) —I am concerned that Senator Chipp may have misunderstood to some extent the nature of my argument in favour of this extension of numbers on the National Crime Authority. My conern is not so much with the point that there will not be enough people to do the work but rather that the great preponderance of members-two out of three-will be appointed by this very indirect method and will be representative of old traditional law enforcement experts. My concern about the work of the Authority is subsidiary; my main concern is about the sort of Authority we will be starting off with when we have only the Chairman selected entirely for his expertise merits, stature and all the rest of it. Indeed, the Chairman's selection may be based more on stature than expertise. Then we will have two people selected in the way that we have discussed.

What I am really concerned about is that there ought to be room on the Authority for at least one and perhaps two experts who can bring a new thought and approach to the whole exercise. Although I am very concerned about that aspect I wonder whether the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) might give some indication as to the sorts of people who will be nominated by this electoral college that we have been talking about, made up of, on the one hand, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and, on the other hand, the Police Ministers Council. We do not even know how many States, if any, will participate . It may be quite impossible for the Attorney to give some indication of who will be nominated by this process of osmosis that we are talking about. Maybe he has had discussions; maybe he has got indications from some of his colleagues. I know he cannot give any guarantees on it but I would be interested to know what he has in mind.

I think I have expressed publicly and in this debate the fact that I am particularly concerned about the fact that we will have the standing committees and all the Ministers at those meetings serviced by officers, some of them with long experience. There seems to be a likely temptation that some officer from a State department will be nominated. When we come to the police Ministers, the temptation may be for some senior police officer to be nominated. There may well be a senior police office who is very well qualified. But I am concerned that we will end up with an Authority with a chairman, who will no doubt be a distinguished independent person, probably a judge, who may not have any great experience in criminal investigation because, obviously, his appointment may be for other reasons. Then we would have two members of it who would be very much representative of State officials.

Senator Chipp —Do you think a judge is likely to accept, given the terms of appointment?

Senator DURACK —I think it likely that a judge will accept. I hope a judge will accept.