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Monday, 8 May 1989
Page: 1965


Senator JONES —My question is directed to the Minister for Justice. It refers to the superannuation payment to Commissioner Lewis. Is the Government taking any steps to deal with the superannuation payments to any Australian Federal Police members who may be found to be corrupt?


Senator TATE —It is a fact that most Australians are extremely worried by the spectre of those policemen who may be found to be corrupt nevertheless enjoying the fruits of a very generously subsidised superannuation scheme whereby the community contributes to the enjoyment of their years of retirement despite the fact that they have undermined so much which is important in our community, namely, the ability to rely on the honesty and integrity of those who are especially sworn to uphold and enforce the law.

I will not comment on the instance in the preamble to Senator Jones's question about Commissioner Lewis. Nevertheless, obviously matters before the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct have brought into focus the need for all parliaments and all governments to look at the question of the payment of superannuation benefits to any policeman who may be found guilty of corrupt conduct, and, indeed, for that reason the Federal Government is moving in that direction.

I want to say, of course, that in this answer there is no hint, nor should any colouring be given to this answer by way of suggesting, that the Australian Federal Police harbours within it those who are guilty of corruption. Nevertheless, I believe that the public demands that we put in place those procedures and that legislation which will ensure that, if a former or serving member of the Australian Federal Police is convicted of a serious offence relating to corruption or is found guilty of a relevant disciplinary offence which leads to his dismissal, his superannuation benefits will be forfeited.

I believe that this community would not wish, as I say, to sustain the retirement of a police officer who has been found by due process to be guilty of corruption which not only in a particular instance might lead to the furtherance of a particular criminal enterprise but in general undermines that legitimate confidence which the community ought to have in those who are sworn to uphold and enforce its laws. For that reason, the Government will be seeking the support of this chamber and of this Parliament generally to ensure that that legislation is passed as speedily as possible.