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Wednesday, 23 April 1980
Page: 1722

Senator SCOTT (New South WalesMinister for Special Trade Representations) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

Honourable senators will recall that on the 6 November 1979 the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and my colleague, Senator Carrick, Leader of the Government in the Senate, made a ministerial statement on the interim report of the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs. The principal recommendation contained in the interim report, which was adopted by the

Government, recommended that the Narcotics Bureau be disbanded, and apart from the responsibility of enforcing Commonwealth law at the Customs barrier remaining with the Bureau of Customs, responsibility for Federal drug enforcement elsewhere be transferred to the Australian Federal Police. Following from this decision it was necessary to transfer, in the first instance, the Public Service officers of the Narcotics Bureau to the Office of the Australian Federal Police, Department of Administrative Services. Those officers were directed to work under the direction of the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. It was envisaged that when the Commissioner had established the appropriate organisation, those former Narcotics Bureau staff whom the Commissioner considered were qualified and suitable for appointment as police officers would be appointed as police officers of the Australian Federal Police. In the meantime those officers were appointed as special members of the Australian Federal Police.

It is important to remind honourable senators of what has already been said in the ministerial statement of 6 November 1979, that those former Narcotics Bureau staff who are not considered qualified or suitable for appointment as police officers and are better suited to Public Service employment will remain in Public Service Act positions and retain their normal Public Service rights to transfer and promotion to other Public Service positions. The Australian Federal Police Act 1 979 as it presently stands, however, provides for a legal preference for a period of at least five years, for former members of the former Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth Police Forces who were appointed to the Australian Federal Police. The legal preference is for any appointment to a rank in the AFP ahead of any person joining from outside the AFP, particularly to the component performing general police functions. Although the legal preference is a qualified one, the problems associated with overcoming its effects, without legislative amendment, in connection with these Public Service narcotics officers, some of whom would need to be appointed to higher ranks, were insurmountable. Such amendments apply only to this small special group of entrants to police ranks. Thus the preference for the members from the former two Police Forces is preserved generally.

The purpose of this Bill, therefore, enables the Government decision to be implemented by empowering the appointment as full members of the AFP of those former Narcotics Bureau staff who are selected by the Commissioner as qualified and suitable for appointment as police officers. The Bill also sets out the principles the Commissioner has to have regard to in determining the rank to which such selected officers are to be appointed. By amending section 68 of the Act, the Bill also provides for certificates of evidence in relation to the appointment of former narcotics officers. Such certificates specify the necessary steps and dates of action required to be taken for such appointments. This will facilitate for the courts proof of their appointment as for other appointments in the AFP. I have arranged for an explanatory memorandum and notes on clauses to be distributed to all honourable senators. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Gietzelt) adjourned.

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