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Monday, 8 May 1989
Page: 1965

Senator HILL —I direct my question to the Minister for Justice. I refer to Keith Moor's recent book entitled Crims in Grass Castles-The Trimbole Affair, with which the Minister would be familiar and which quotes Assistant Police Commissioner Carl Mengler, who is now the chief investigator with the National Crime Authority in South Australia, speaking of the Mafia in Australia as follows:

It had spread to such an extent that it would have been a serious embarrassment in several areas if Trimbole had come back to Australia and had been put on trial, especially if he revealed what he knew.

A little later he said:

The simple fact is that to my knowledge there was no real hunt for Trimbole by the Australian authorities.

On what basis does the Government disagree-it clearly does disagree, because it has taken no action-with the thesis of the book, apparently supported by Commissioner Mengler, that there should be an inquiry to explore the inefficiency and corruption that led to Trimbole being allowed to run free in Australia and Europe?

Senator TATE —It is quite wrong to say that Australian law enforcement authorities were not concerned with tracking down and, if possible, securing the extradition of Mr Robert Trimbole. The authorities, certainly at the national level, are concerned that those who engage in the sort of criminal activity in which Mr Trimbole was engaged ought to be brought to justice. The fact that they flee this jurisdiction and seek safe haven overseas ought not to be allowed to stop the process of justice taking full effect.

In relation to the hunt for Mr Trimbole, I certainly was briefed at various stages. After his corpse was discovered I made myself as well aware as I could of the course of the investigations, particularly in relation to the Spanish authorities, and the help which they had proffered and managed to deliver. So it might be of interest to the Senate to know that in late June or perhaps in the first week of July I will be in Madrid-at great sufferance to me, of course-to sign a mutual assistance in criminal matters treaty with the Spanish to secure those procedures which will help ensure that if an Australian criminal seeks haven overseas, particularly in Spain, we can have the procedures in place to allow us to work in conjunction with the Spanish authorities to ensure that such a person is brought to justice.