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Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Page: 6427


Senator LINES (Western Australia) (16:19): I move:

That the Senate notes:

(a) the success of the New South Wales Custodial Notifications Service (CNS) in dramatically reducing Aboriginal deaths in custody in that state;

(b) the delay of the Abbott Government to ensure ongoing funding of the successful CNS, and a lack of progress on implementation of a CNS in Western Australia; and

(c) the commitment given by Western Australia Labor at their recent State Conference to fund and implement a CNS to ensure Aboriginal people who are taken into custody have immediate access to appropriate legal assistance.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator LINES: The Custodial Notification Service has been in operation in New South Wales and the ACT since 2000. It was established out of the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. It has been the single reason there has not been one death of an Aboriginal person in a police cell in New South Wales since then. The Abbott government cut the CNS funding—its paltry half a million dollars—but, after very strong protest, restored it for just six months at the 11th hour.

In answer to a question on notice from me to Minister Scullion about the likelihood of the CNS being rolled out nationally, he responded by saying, 'It's not under active consideration.' This is a preventative service and should be rolled out nationally. Instead, the Abbott government continues to play with the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who find themselves in police cells.

Question agreed to.