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Friday, 26 May 1989
Page: 2823

Senator TATE (Minister for Justice)(10.30) —I am inclined to agree with Senator Hill. Certainly there should not be-I believe there is not-a general rule of thumb or principle that enables the head of a major organisation such as a tribunal or court automatically to assume that the Government will move head office to the place of residence of and the place where that head of tribunal or chief judge normally exercises his jurisdiction. My having said that, some more detailed answers are probably required.

In relation to the Family Court proposal, as I recall during the discussion at the Estimates Committee, Mr Spink, the Acting Registrar of the Family Court of Australia, indicated that, with the increased emphasis on the Chief Judge's managerial role in relation to the work of this most complex national organisation, it could be seen to be beneficial to have the principal registry available to the Chief Judge for consultation other than by facsimile and telephone. Some reasonable arguments were put up to support that proposal by a person who has the experience of being the chief administrative officer of that court, as the Acting Principal Registrar. I believe that the proposal, whilst not falling on deaf ears, has not by any means reached a stage where the Chief Judge's request-whether he be a good man or whether Melbourne be a good city-has been acceded to by the Government. The suggestion is to be included in terms of reference for an examination of the whole financial and administrative structure of the Family Court which is to be undertaken in the next financial year.

Senator Hill —By whom?

Senator TATE —The Family Court itself, the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Finance will be undertaking an examination of the Family Court administration. This will be merely one facet of that examination. If the proposal were to be further advanced as a result of that examination, full consultation with affected staff would have to take place. That would be part of the Government's decision-making process, quite apart from the question of efficiencies and costs. The movement of staff and the loss of talent if staff decide not to move is a very important consideration.

With regard to the National Crime Authority, the appointment of Mr Peter Faris, QC, of the Melbourne Bar to head the Authority-I will give some editorial colouring to my answer-has been extremely well received. He was introduced to the intergovernmental committee of relevant Ministers from all jurisdictions around Australia in Adelaide last Thursday and received the confidence of that committee for the task that he is now undertaking in succession to Mr Justice Stewart, who established the National Crime Authority. The proposal that the leadership group within the administration of the National Crime Authority be transferred to Melbourne is not one of enormous logistics. Partly as a result of the work of Messrs Costigan and Redlich and others, the National Crime Authority has a very considerable presence in Melbourne, with considerable administrative staff. We do not know for sure but we think only a small number of persons would be affected by any such proposal.

Senator Hill —It has been agreed that it has been transferred?

Senator TATE —I understand it has been agreed by the Attorney-General that such transfer will take place. The exact number involved no doubt depends on consultation once again with those presently holding down the positions subject to transfer. I am quite confident that once again, given the expected passage of legislation in this place this session to ensure that the chairman of the National Crime Authority has a more direct and clear responsibility for the managerial supervision of that Authority, it would make sense for Mr Faris to be assisted by the physical presence of those who would implement the managerial directive and supervision that he would be required to give to the operations of the Authority.