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Wednesday, 28 March 1984
Page: 762


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(10.09) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Honourable senators will be aware that in December last year Parliament passed the Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Act 1983. That Act allowed the Attorney-General to consider any request from the New South Wales Special Commissions of Inquiry, constituted by Mr Justice Cross, for information relating to the commission or intended commission of a serious criminal offence which had been obtained by the lawful interception of telecommunications.

Mr Justice Cross was appointed to conduct three separate inquiries under the Special Commissions of Inquiry Act 1983. Two of those inquiries have been completed. The third inquiry, relating to the circumstances surrounding the early release of certain prisoners, was in progress when Mr Justice Cross resigned his commission because of ill health. On 27 March the New South Wales Governor appointed Mr Justice Slattery to conduct that incompleted inquiry.

Pursuant to the terms of the 1983 amendment to the Telecommunications ( Interception) Act, I had communicated to Mr Justice Cross certain information obtained by the Australian Federal Police by lawful interception of telecommunications.

The Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 1984 is necessary to permit that information to be furnished to Mr Justice Slattery for the purposes of his special commission of inquiry. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Durack) adjourned.