Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 1001

Senator DEVITT - I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Are there any imperfections or inadequacies in the laws which limit or inhibit the activities of Commonwealth police in matters of the nature of those about which we have been talking today? Are any proposals being considered to facilitate or further develop the joint operations of Commonwealth and State police forces in matters which clearly have greater Commonwealth than State implications? Are the Commonwealth law officers in any way restrained or prevented from taking action in matters of this kind when the events take place outside Commonwealth Territory and in an area of State jurisdiction?

Senator GREENWOOD - There is, of course, the overriding constitutional problem that the Commonwealth has no general criminal jurisdiction. In this country the States have the general criminal jurisdiction. If the honourable senator wants to see a ready contrast I suggest that he consider the Canadian position where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are the federal police force and have an overriding control. As to whether there are imperfections, deficiencies and defects in the law it is difficult to answer because one has to examine particular laws. But as to whether the Commonwealth Police Force can be improved in any way, I think I have indicated that I believe that it can be. I have a departmental report which I am considering. I hope that other action can be taken which will be helpful.

I believe that there is close co-operation between the Commonwealth police force and the State police forces and that when problems arise they are resolved by discussions. There have been problems in the past and discussions have resolved them. The commissioners of the State police forces, the Territory police force and the Commonwealth police force meet regularly and these matters are discussed. I believe we must recognise that in a federal country there will always be problems as to where the authority of one police force ends and another begins. In this area of overlap there has to be co-operation. The current problem is one which, if it has political implications which affect the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth must fane. I think that this is so here.

Suggest corrections