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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2801

Senator MISSEN —Did the Attorney-General read weekend accounts of the premature moving of Detective Sergeant Ross Dickson, Queensland's most successful policeman, with a clean-up rate of 84 per cent, from his post at Mareeba to Townsville? Is the Attorney-General aware of Sergeant Dickson's claim that he has proof that organised crime is involved in drug-related activities in his territory, and is it also known to the Government that substantial drug growers and dealers and fauna smugglers have transferred some of their operations from New South Wales to northern Queensland? What confidence does the Attorney- General have that the Queensland Government will allow Queensland to be a participating State in the National Crime Authority operations and, if it will not do so, will the Commonwealth use all its existing powers to ensure a vigorous onslaught on organised crime operations in north Queensland?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen some reference in the Press to the matters raised by Senator Missen. I am certainly not in a position to make any evaluation of the performance in this respect of either the Queensland Government or the Queensland police force. I am certainly not in a position, on the basis of tales told by Senator Missen or anybody else, to form any judgment that the Queensland Government or police force are inappropriate participants in the National Crime Authority structure that we are now setting in place. I have had reasons on occasion in the past to be critical of aspects of the operation of the Queensland police force regarding its conduct of investigations against suspects, and no doubt I will be in the future, but I have no basis whatsoever for accepting even at the remotest face value the kinds of assertions or innuendoes which underly Senator Missen's question.

I express my full confidence, unless I get some very substantial proof to the contrary, in the capacity of the Queensland Government and its police force to be fully co-operating and fully effective members of the National Crime Authority. Certainly, as I understand it, the Queensland Government and its police force have co-operated very fully and thoroughly in the kinds of investigations that have been carried out hitherto into, particularly, areas of royal commission activity, even in the absence of explicit terms of reference or letters patent flowing from the Queensland Government. I have not heard any criticism flowing either from the reports of those royal commissioners or from informal communications from them to suggest there is any substance in the kind of suggestion which Senator Missen now makes. I will obviously follow up this matter with the Special Minister of State and see whether he has any further information that he feels is necessary or appropriate to put on the public record. But for the moment I certainly do not draw any of the conclusions that Senator Missen would have me draw.