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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2283

Senator VANSTONE (8.29 p.m.) —There are two points worth making. Firstly, it should be satisfactory that people who can issue warrants face to face are the same people who can issue those warrants over the phone. I do not think we need to draw a distinction in that respect. We were initially very attracted to, and we canvassed amongst ourselves, the notion that it should only be a magistrate who can issue these warrants. But when we had a committee hearing, I discovered that in New South Wales—quite unbeknownst to me; it possibly was known by Senator Spindler before then, I do not know—there are specially trained, authorised JPs. Is that the minister's understanding of what they are called?

Senator Bolkus —Court-employed authorised JPs.

Senator VANSTONE —In any event, suffice it to say, different states have different entitlements for people who can issue these warrants with respect to the state laws. It seems sensible to try to keep some sort of commonality as to who can do this. Therefore, it seems appropriate to follow what is in the bill and say, `If you can do it for state legislation, you can do it for the purposes of this legislation'. The argument of having the same people empowered to do the warrants for both state and federal matters is more powerful than the argument that we ought to empower just magistrates to do this.

  One of the reasons for going through this bill quite extensively, as it relates to some of the Democrat amendments, is to look at what the situation is in the states and whether we think it is smart to have this bill applying such distinctly different provisions. We decided in the end that it was not. It would be too much of an imposition on the states to demand that, just for the purposes of federal warrants, there should be a different category of people. We are advised by the government that over 700 federal warrants are issued in New South Wales each year. If the states were not entitled to use these court-appointed authorised JPs who are trained to understand the issues that have to be considered in issuing warrants, this would be quite a substantial imposition on them. Seven hundred warrants are quite a lot.

Senator Spindler —Two per day.

Senator VANSTONE —Two a day. It keeps adding up. Warrants generally are not issued on Saturdays and Sundays. I know this bill relates to the AFP, but it also relates to the state police. It is fair to say that those to whom we can go to get a warrant for state matters are the same people we can go to for federal matters. That is the sensible way to proceed.