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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13712

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (11:08): I take this brief opportunity to also speak on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity inquiry into integrity testing. Other speakers, I believe, have quite adequately covered the inquiry and the recommendations that came from it, but I will make some brief comments about it. I begin by saying that the committee inquired into the possible introduction of a law enforcement integrity testing framework at the Commonwealth level. It did so noting that similar processes were already available to state jurisdictions here in Australia, as well as in some of the overseas jurisdictions such as New York, London and Hong Kong. I would also say from the very outset that the report should not in any way be interpreted as a negative reflection on the professionalism and integrity of our law enforcement officers throughout the country.

The inquiry commenced, as the member for Fowler just pointed out, in July this year, although I understand some previous comments were made about integrity testing in a report of the committee in early 2010, but at that time I do not think the matter was proceeded with. I want to point out the terms of reference for the inquiry. The committee resolved to consider:

(a) the various integrity testing models, including the advantages and disadvantages of random and targeted integrity testing, effectiveness as a corruption deterrent, and possible entrapment issues;

(b) the legislative and administrative framework required to underpin an integrity testing regime;

(c) the Commonwealth agencies to whom an integrity testing regime could apply;

(d) the potential role of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity in integrity testing; and

(e) any other relevant matters.

All of those matters were adequately covered in the inquiry, even though it was a relatively short inquiry. It was interesting to hear the diverse views of the various agencies that made representations to the committee. It is certainly the case that there was no uniform view across all the agencies that made representations and who appeared as witnesses before the committee. I believe there was a majority view that integrity testing is something that should be considered at Commonwealth level, given that it already exists at state level.

The member for Fowler raised a couple of matters that I also want to discuss. He quite properly referred to the issue of entrapment, which is an issue that has been dealt with in the courts. Entrapment was a particular issue that caused concern to some of the people who made submissions to the committee. In the course of the integrity testing, if an activity is carried out that may be interpreted as entrapment, that would not only cause problems within the agency from where the particular officer came, but there is also the possibility that the process that was used to test the integrity of the person concerned could be challenged in court. As I said, that was a matter that was looked at by one of the courts at one point in time. I understand the concerns that have been raised with respect to this. However, it is one of the methods that is often used in integrity testing in other jurisdictions, and I believe that, if used in an appropriate way, it would perhaps enable the necessary authorities to carry out the testing that is required.

One of the other concerns that was raised about integrity testing across jurisdictions is cost. It is a relevant factor and should be taken into account. However, given the importance of the work that is being proposed, I believe that the issue of cost should not be used as a reason to not go ahead with integrity testing.

The last point I want to comment on is the one that I referred to in my opening remarks—that is, integrity testing is carried out in other jurisdictions even here in Australia but not at Commonwealth government level. I believe that there is no reason to argue that, if it applies in one jurisdiction, it should not apply in another. In fact, we have some Commonwealth government agencies that do some very important work. Within those agencies, the community has every right to feel absolutely confident that the work is being carried out in the most professional way and that the integrity of those officers is not in any way in question. Applying the integrity-testing framework to those jurisdictions, I believe, will provide the Australian community with that level of confidence. The suggestion and recommendation of the committee is that integrity testing commence within those agencies that come under the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity—and that would be a good way to get the process up and running.

I want to commend the other members of the committee that were part of the process that we are now reporting on. Regrettably, I was not able to get to many of the committee meetings. I commend in particular the chair of the committee, the member for Fremantle, who spoke on this matter in the House on Monday. I thank the staff who assisted the committee in its work and all of those agencies who made submissions to the committee and who gave evidence before the committee. I believe that anyone who heard their presentations would have very much appreciated the insight they brought to this process and, in all cases, the professionalism with which they approached the question that was before the committee. I commend the report to the House.

Debate adjourned.