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Wednesday, 29 February 1984
Page: 141

Senator ELSTOB —My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, concerns recent claims made by the head of the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence that the Bureau was only now, after three years of existence, becoming an established body. Will the Attorney explain the delays in setting up the Bureau and what effects this has had on developing and co-ordinating national criminal intelligence data?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I can advise the honourable senator, on behalf of the Special Minister of State, that the ABCI is an established and working organisation and is, in the view of the Government, now fulfilling the need for which it was created. The Commonwealth's funding of the ABCI has increased quite dramatically from about $650,000 in 1981-82 to $1.048m in 1982-83 and to $1.7m in the current financial year. Like any new organisation in its first year or so of operation some deficiencies were exposed which I am told the Police Ministers ' Council has striven rapidly and with some success to overcome. The major difficulty experienced by the Bureau, particularly in recent times in the last year was, I am told, the substantial increase in work load generated by the growing appreciation of its expertise by the participating police forces. That is a measure of the growing acceptance and efficiency of the organisation.

A number of proposals are aimed at upgrading the effectiveness of the ABCI, including the recruitment of additional staff, which have been considered and agreed to by the Police Ministers' Council in November last year. The implementation of these proposals is intended to be undertaken in the context of the 1984-85 Budget. The Commonwealth Government is committed to the continued and improved effectiveness of the ABCI in assisting police forces to combat organised crime. I add in that respect and in my own right that it is, of course , proposed that there be a close working consultative relationship between the ABCI and the proposed national crimes authority which will be undoubtedly to the benefit of all Australians.