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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 2043

Mr STEELE HALL(4.43) —This is a co-operative decision because, as the Minister for Finance and Acting Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Dawkins) has said, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Public Works Committee were consulted. Both agreed with the urgency involved and agreed that the timetable should be met. Therefore the Opposition is pleased to agree with the proposal put forward by the Minister to facilitate as soon as possible the acquisition of new headquarters for the essential body of the National Crime Authority.

It is interesting, however, to look at the history of the development of these headquarters and to note that the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans)-the Government's representative in the Senate on this matter-has had, as usual, differing views at different times on this matter. On 15 June 1984, in part answer to a question in the Senate which involved this matter, he said:

It should be said, however, that there is no foundation for the speculation I have seen in the newspaper that the whole enterprise will be shifted lock, stock and barrel to Sydney simply by virtue of the appointment of a Chairman from that State. Obviously it makes sense to maintain the core of the operations, at least so far as it concerns the computer analysis and so on, in Melbourne.

I take it from the emphasis placed on this acquisition of headquarters that it will in fact include these things that the Attorney-General has said will continue to be stationed in Melbourne. However, it is not a surprise to the Opposition that the Attorney-General should find himself on the other side of the final decision. He has managed, in respect of many Government decisions, to intimate at the beginning that they would be otherwise than they have finally been concluded by Cabinet and his colleagues.

Another more serious matter perhaps in the attitude of the Government in its management of this matter was the published concern of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association that it had not been told of the shift to Sydney from Melbourne of the headquarters or the organisation that had been built up by the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union. The State Secretary of the ACOA, Mr David Bunn, in Victoria, was reported in the Age of 11 June this year as stating that about 25 unionists at the Costigan inquiry, which had a total staff of about 170, could not afford to pay the estimated $100,000 that it was believed it would cost them to relocate in Sydney. He went on to say:

The only thing the union knows about the transfer is what Michelle Grattan (The Age') and Peter Costigan (Herald') have written.

Without taking that further, it does raise the question of the costs of relocation of officers of Commonwealth authorities in Sydney. This was a matter dealt with in the joint management review of the Australian Federal Police and reported on in February of this year. Madam Deputy Speaker, you would be aware that the Australian Federal Police are very actively involved in supporting the work of the National Crime Authority. The joint management review then stated:

The inhibitions in the present system of deploying manpower resources which . . . require the right personnel to move to regional commands to meet priorities as well as in career development caused by the lack of a career development program and claimed significant financial burdens associated with moves . . .

For instance, to Sydney. The Eastern Region has 34 substantive vacancies at middle to senior management levels.I believe that this is something the Government will have to take into consideration in its support of the National Crime Authority establishing its headquarters in Sydney because it is a notoriously difficult city for people to move to from any other place in Australia, unless one is in a particularly good position somewhere else in Australia. It has been assumed in the past that, if one is shifting out of Sydney to a smaller State, in effect one has almost won the lottery in the change one will get from buying premises out of the high cost areas of Sydney. Conversely, in this case those who move to Sydney need special consideration in the extra financial burden that is required of them in the exchange of properties in this way.

Mr Redlich, the Special Prosecutor, on 12 July of this year, in relation to the strength of the Australian Federal Police in Sydney, had this to say:

An additional problem is faced by the Federal Police in trying to attract sufficient applicants for available postings in Sydney. At one stage in the Review period the Management Team noted that there were, for example, 34 vacant management positions in that city, many without applicants at all, the main reasons cited being the ''considerable financial hardship'' which apparently results from the relocation of A.F.P. members after recruitment in or posting to Canberra and is also due to the increased housing and commuting costs involved in both establishing and maintaining a residence in the capital of New South Wales.

Therefore, in supporting this motion the Opposition draws attention to that problem which will inevitably arise from choosing Sydney as the location for the accommodation. We make no protest at that choice. Certainly it would seem that the more flamboyant areas of crime are positioned in New South Wales. Apart from that it is, of course, the largest city in Australia and the premier State in population. So there are many reasons why the headquarters should be there. But I point out to the Minister-I feel he is aware of it-that the problem exists, and has been reported upon in the two reports to the Government which I have mentioned, that the penalty which applies to those who are shifted to Sydney ought not to be an inhibiting factor in getting the right people for the right job. In fact, those vacancies that have been reported upon as existing partly because of that cost should be remedied by government intervention and assistance to those involved to make sure that they are not financially penalised in following their profession and in serving the Government and the community through the National Crime Authority.

Question resolved in the affirmative.