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Tuesday, 1 May 1984
Page: 1370


Senator MISSEN(3.14) —Incorporated with the tabled report, is a substantial minority report by me. I think that is incorporated in the motion that the report be printed which has already been moved. I seek leave to table and to have incorporated in Hansard a summary statement by me on the tabling of the minority report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on the investigation into the national crime authority legislation 1983.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

SUMMARY STATEMENT BY SENATOR ALAN MISSEN ON THE TABLING OF THE MINORITY REPORT TO THE SENATE CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE INVESTIGATION INTO THE NATIONAL CRIME AUTHORITY LEGISLATION 1983

There is common agreement between all members of the Committee that the Attorney-General's proposed National Crime Authority Bill 1983, and accompanying legislation, is in various areas highly deficient. As presently drafted it will not achieve the effective fulfilment of ''the objective of investigating organized crime and official corruption'', the subject of this Committee's inquiry.

Substantial evidence before the Committee, contained in public Hansards, has disclosed many weaknesses in the legislation which is the product of disjointed and unsound compromises between many conflicting interests. The growing and alarming ramifications of organized crime in Australia call for stringent efforts and the proposed legislation gives no promise of success in suppressing organized crime and corruption; indeed as a successor to the Costigan Royal Commission, it will clearly fall far short of its successful operation. To proceed to establish a Commission with the present defects, would mislead the public and ill serve this nation. The Australian people, already facing the dangers and costs of organized crime, are entitled to expect their legislators to produce a workable Crime Commission and to accept national responsibilities. They are not bound by the misjudgments of the Commonealth Attorney-General and his abject surrender to the demands of certain State Governments and civil liberties organizations.

The Senate Committee has, in its Majority Report usefully analysed these weaknesses but, in my opinion, has settled for soft options and partial remedies that should not satisfy the Australian people. It would create a ramshackle, ineffective body.

Consequently I have advanced specific additional remedies to cover such deficencies. They relate mainly to the recommended establishment of an Australian Crime Commission which has widely expressed purposes and functions, and operates with sufficient powers of information gathering, surveillance and collecton of evidence to the point of prosecution, and is backed by necessary coercive powers to produce results akin to the Costigan Commission, but over a wider field of organized crime. It must be freed from the obstructions and '' veto'' powers residing in an Inter-Governmental Committee, be able to require answers from witnesses and acquire documents without excessive resort to defences of ''self incrimination'' and rights to indemnity. It must be enabled to inform the public through the right of public hearings where required. The Commission must be appointed by methods that guarantee fearless and highly competent Commissioners and staff and its work should be carefully monitored by a permanent Joint Parliamentary Committee. My recommendations are backed by the best evidence available to the Senate Committee. The existing Act, the National Crimes Commission Act 1982, must not be repealed unless its substitute is legislation of unquestioned utility-and not a sham and delusion.

The details of these proposals are set out clearly in the Minority Report which I have the honour to present today. The conclusions to that Minority Report, which summarise its contents, are annexed to this Press release.

I am available to discuss any aspects of the Committee inquiry and recommendations.


Senator MISSEN —I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.