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Thursday, 15 December 1983
Page: 3846


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(12.01) —I seek leave to have the Government's response incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The response read as follows-

When, on 31 May 1983, I tabled the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking, I indicated that the Government's response to the recommendations made would be announced during the Budget Sittings of Parliament . Following the tabling of the Report, the recommendations were studied by all relevant Commonwealth Departments, and reports were made to Ministers. The Government has now considered these reports, and determined its response to Mr Justice Stewart's recommendations.

In his Report, which contained a total of 102 recommendations, Mr Justice Stewart made 91 recommendations applicable to areas of Commonwealth responsibility. A considerable number of those recommendations are addressed to both Commonwealth and State Governments.

The New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland Governments have under consideration those recommendations affecting their jurisdictions. There have been on-going consultations between the Commonwealth and those States.

Briefly, the statistical picture is that final decisions have been made on 39 of the recommendations, insofar as they affect the Commonwealth, 20 require further consultation with the States, and 21 are being considered in the course of already existing reviews. The remaining 11 recommendations are the subject of further investigation.

In his Report, Mr Justice Stewart canvassed a very wide range of areas relating to law enforcement. His recommendations cover both general matters, such as the need for co-operation between police forces and more specific matters, such as forfeiture of profits from drug trafficking. The Report has been of assistance in the preparation of two major Government proposals: the National Crime Authority Bill and the Director of Public Prosecutions Bill.

Law Enforcement Agencies

Recommendations 1 to 5 deal with co-operation between law enforcement agencies, and, in particular, with the use of joint task forces involving Commonwealth and State authorities. The Commonwealth supports the setting up of joint task forces wherever the circumstances are appropriate. These recommendations have been implemented (recs. 3 and 4) or require further consultation with the States before full implementation can be achieved.

Recommendations 6 and 62 concern the setting up of a National Criminal Records Bureau, with access to its information available to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. This matter is under discussion with the States in the Australian Police Ministers' Council (APMC).

Recommendations 7 and 8 relate to Australia's coastal surveillance system, and are being considered in the course of the present Ministerial review of that system. A number of the changes recommended by Mr Justice Stewart have already been introduced.

Recommendations 9 to 11 propose the setting up of a uniformed gendarmerie, referred to by Mr Justice Stewart as a ''National Guard'', to take over the Protective Service function of the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The future of the Protective Service component of the AFP is currently under review.

Recommendation 12 proposes that the AFP, throughout Australia, should develop itself as a detective investigational force. The Government's view is that the AFP should continue its role as the primary law enforcement agency of the Commonwealth, co-operating with State police in areas of mutual concern.

Criminal Intelligence Systems

A number of these recommendations were relevant to the question of the establishment of a National Crime Authority. These recommendations were taken into account in the formulation of the National Crime Authority Bill, which has recently been introduced. Experience of the operation of the National Crime Authority will of course be relevant to those recommendations relating to criminal intelligence systems which are still the subject of examination and consultation with the States.

Recommendations 14 and 15 are concerned with arrangements for liaison between Commonwealth and State Bureaus of Criminal Intelligence. Whilst the recommendation as to liaison has been implemented on the Commonwealth side, action by the States is required for full implementation.

Recommendations 16 to 21 deal with the interception of telephone communications and face-to-face conversations. A decision on these recommendations must await the conclusion of a number of existing reviews, in particular, Government consideration of the report of the Australian Law Reform Commission on Privacy, and the review of the Criminal Investigation Bill. Recommendations 20 and 27 raise the question of an operational role for the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI). In forming the charter of the ABCI in the APMC, all Governments involved (Commonwealth and State) rejected the concept of an operational role. However these recommendations will be taken into account in any future review of the role of the ABCI.

Recommendations 22 to 24 deal with the passing of information by police forces to the ABCI. As far as the AFP is concerned, the Government considers that satisfactory arrangements for the passing of information already exist. The AFP is consulting with State police forces on methods of ensuring greater access by the ABCI to State requested Interpol information. The AFP has a continuing need for criminal intelligence analysts, and it is not appropriate that its resources be transferred to the ABCI. Recommendation 28 proposes a scheme of overseas briefings and postings for ABCI officers. The Government agrees that there is a need for these officers to receive overseas briefings.

Police Powers

Recommendations 29 and 30 contain a lengthy and detailed set of proposals for regulating police powers, and the questioning and searching of suspects. These proposals are being considered as part of the review of the Criminal Investigation Bill, which is expected to be completed in the early stages of 1984.

Complaints against Police

Recommendations 33, 34, 38, 46, 48 and 51 deal with procedures for the investigation of complaints against police officers. The Government believes that experience with the Complaints (Australian Federal Police) Act 1981 indicates that it is working well and the reporting requirement proposed in recommendation 38 is already provided for by that Act. Recommendations 48 and 51 are already reflected in the approach taken by the AFP in investigating complaints. Recommendation 46 does not make sufficient allowance for the possibility of malicious allegations, and the existing provisions of the Complaints (Australian Federal Police) Act 1981 are considered to be adequate. The aims of recommendations 33 and 34 are partially satisfied by the Act, and the Government has referred these recommendations to the APMC, so that the general issues can be further explored. There are 12 recommendations proposing structural and organizational changes to police forces designed to reduce the possibility of police corruption. The proposal to create an Inspectorate of Australia Police Forces (rec. 32) has been referred to the APMC.

Recommendations dealing with insistence on command responsibility and accountability (rec. 35), the need for systems of control over seized property ( rec. 36), the introduction of procedures to prevent corrupt practices rendering police operations ineffective (rec. 43) and the divesting of police of unpopular functions, such as policing parking laws, (rec. 44) have been already implemented by the AFP. Recommendations 40, 45, 47, 49 and 50 deal with the rotation of personnel working in corruption high risk areas, the use of uniformed officers and special squads in those areas, and making plain clothes police officers responsible to senior uniformed officers. The Government regards these recommendations as useful proposals, but the possible benefits need to be balanced against the operational efficiency and effective use of resources of other methods of investigation.

Recommendations 41 and 42 propose the appointment of senior police officers, including the Commissioner, from outside the appointing police force. The Government considers that the essential criterion should be ''who is the best person for the job''. While the Government sees merit in appointments to senior positions in the AFP being open to officers from other forces, it sees a need for all Australian police forces to adopt a similar policy, particularly as it affects the job expectations of police officers.

Recommendations 37 and 39 deal with the training of police officers, and reflect the approach already taken by the AFP.

Recommendation 53 proposes a bi-partisan approach to police matters with a view to achieving a political consensus. The Government sees merit in continuing and, where appropriate, expanding existing practices designed to reach such a consensus, and will take this recommendation into account when particular major police issues arise in the future.

Deportation and Extradition

Recommendations 54, 56, 57 and 65 deal with different types of international agreements. The ''inherited'' extradition treaties listed by Mr Justice Stewart are being reviewed, and a program of negotiating bilateral treaties is about to commence (rec. 56). A review of the Extradition Acts is well advanced, and the Extradition (Foreign States) Act 1966 now applies in relation to narcotic offences as regards all countries which have acceded to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Full records of extraditions are kept (rec. 57). A bilateral law enforcement agency assistance treaty is being negotiated with Switzerland, and a similar multilateral treaty is being prepared by the Commonwealth of Nations ( rec. 65). Officers of my Department are considering the possibility of agreements with other countries for the temporary surrender, for the trial in one country, of prisoners serving long periods of imprisonment in another country (rec. 54). Of course, the Commission's recommendation that the possibility of special arrangements be investigated in relation to Terrence John Clark lapsed with his recent death. The Government does not intend to enact legislation to permit a criminal trial to be held in the absence of an accused, who is a fugitive, or imprisoned in another country (rec. 55).

Recommendations 58 proposes measures of assistance which should be provided to officers of Customs engaged on primary line duties. This assistance has begun to be provided, and the newly established Passports Committee is expected to produce further improvements in this area.

Recommendations 59 to 61 deal with notification to the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs of criminal activities and convictions of persons who are not Australian citizens, and suggested amendments to the deportation provisions of the Migration Act 1958. These recommendations have been implemented and the Migration Amendment Act 1983 was enacted earlier in this Session.

Financial Investigations

Recommendations 63, 64 and 66 are concerned with the greater availability of company information and with banking practices. Some changes are already proposed to the laws relating to the revealing of the beneficial ownership of shares (rec. 63); and the other matters are being considered by the Treasury and the Reserve Bank in consultation with the trading banks and are also being investigated by the National Companies and Securities Commission (rec. 66) or considered by the Ministerial Council (recs. 63 and 64).

The Australian Associated Stock Exchanges have been invited to review their regulations with a view to preventing their members from becoming involved in transactions designed to launder money (rec. 67).

Recommendation 68 suggests uniform Commonwealth and State laws for forfeiture of property, and the payment of financial penalties, by convicted drug offenders . Existing Commonwealth legislation substantially provides for the penalties and remedies proposed, and the Government will raise the need for State action through the Ministerial Committee on Drug Strategy. Recommendations 69 and 70, dealing with the registration of new names, and the need for an offence of using a false name in connection with any commercial transaction, will be referred by the Government to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.

Prosecutions

Recommendations 71 to 76 were considered in the formulation of the legislation recently introduced by the Government to establish a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The Commission's proposal that there be a combined Commonwealth-State Directorate of Public Prosecutions will be considered after experience has been gained in operating the Commonwealth Office (rec. 74).

Recommendations 79 and 80 deal with systems for the monitoring of persons released on bail. Bail legislation for the Australian Capital Territory is currently being considered by the A.C.T. Criminal Law Consultative Committee, and these recommendations will be taken into account in that consideration.

Recommendations 82 to 88 are concerned with the granting of indemnities to, and the protection of, prosecution witnesses. The Commonwealth has recognized the need to grant immunities and pardons to persons who have been involved in criminal acts and are willing to give evidence (rec. 82); the criteria for so granting are set out in the published Commonwealth prosecution policy statement. The Director of Public Prosecutions Bill makes provision for the DPP to offer immunities subject to guidelines to be laid down by the Attorney-General (recs. 85 and 86). The possibility of a system for co-ordinating the grant of immunities by different prosecuting agencies will be raised by the Commonwealth in the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (rec. 83). In accordance with recommendations 88, the Government has asked the Australian Police Ministers' Council to investigate and report upon a national system to protect prosecution witnesses against reprisals. The remaining recommendations will not be implemented. There is no need to enact legislation to make it compulsory for an indemnified witness to testify, as the existing law is adequate (rec. 84). Nor would it be appropriate to fetter the discretion of a judge when sentencing a convicted offender who has given assistance to law enforcement agencies (rec. 87 ).

Recommendations 89 to 92 concern procedures to be followed at narcotics seizures. The review of the Criminal Investigation Bill will consider the possibility of tape and/or video recording at the scene of a drug raid (rec. 92) . Mr Justice Stewart has proposed greatly increased use of forensic chemists ( recs. 89 and 91) both at the scene of a drug seizure, and for re-weighing and re -analysing narcotics prior to destruction. The Government agrees in principle with these recommendations, and they are already complied with in a percentage of cases. Lack of forensic staff has made it difficult for these proposals to be fully implemented. The AFP already has in train measures to implement recommendation 90, concerning destruction of most of a quantity of seized narcotics shortly after seizure. The Government will be raising this in the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General for further discussion.

Amendments to Royal Commission Legislation

Recommendations 93 to 96 propose changes to the legislation governing the powers of Royal Commissions, and the rights and liabilities of people appearing before them. These recommendations are to be considered in the course of a separate review of the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

Further Investigations

By recommendations 100 to 102, Mr Justice Stewart made available to the Commonwealth evidence given to the Commission in relation to three persons, so that further investigations might be made. Appropriate action has been taken.

The Government has found the Report useful and constructive. As I have already stated the recommendations range over a significant number of matters important for law enforcement. The Government and the Australian community are grateful to Mr Justice Stewart for this thorough examination of the matters referred to him. In respect of the limited number of recommendations as to which the Government has not reached final conclusions, the Government will now proceed to complete its examination at the earliest possible date.