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Friday, 25 November 2011
Page: 9708

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:35): I present the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity on integrity testing, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

Question agreed to.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate in the Hansard my tabling speech, which, although carefully looked at by me, has been prepared by the committee secretariat with my guidance. I want to thank all the people who gave evidence to the inquiry through either written or oral submissions. I also want to thank the secretariat and wish them and their families all the very best for Christmas.

Leave granted.

The incorporated speech read as follows—

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, I am happy to present [speak on] the committee's report entitled Inquiry into integrity testing.

Since July this year, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity has been conducting an inquiry to consider the possible introduction of a law enforcement integrity testing framework at the Commonwealth level. In that context the inquiry addressed issues including types of integrity testing, its effectiveness both in corruption investigations and as a deterrent, the question of requisite safeguards, the nature of any such legislation, and of course the likely role of Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) under such a framework.

Integrity testing is a term that is used to describe a range of activities that are designed to assess compliance with the governing integrity requirements of an office or agency. In essence, integrity testing involves putting an individual in a simulated situation where corrupt behaviour can occur, and then observing the individual's behaviour. Such a test can be arranged on a targeted basis—as a result of specific intelligence about an individual or group—or on a random basis in order to provide a general deterrent.

A simple example of such a test, in the context of police integrity, might involve the leaving of valuable items at a crime scene in order to watch that the correct procedures for dealing with such property are followed.

Integrity testing of police officers already occurs in a number of jurisdictions, including New York City, Hong Kong, London, and in most Australian states, although not currently at the Commonwealth level. Experience from those places has shown integrity testing to be a very effective tool. The introduction of integrity testing would complement Australia's existing integrity arrangements and would assist the government in its fight against serious and organised crime.

In the final report, which it is my pleasure to present, the committee has recommended that a targeted integrity testing program initially apply to Commonwealth law enforcement agencies within ACLEI's jurisdiction. ACLEI was established in December 2006 to provide anti-corruption oversight of law enforcement at the Commonwealth level and currently oversees the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

In making its recommendations, the committee does not allege the existence of widespread or serious corruption in Australian law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies take their governance and accountability requirements very seriously. However, the potential for corruption suggests the need for effective measures to combat corruption, and integrity testing is a useful tool to incorporate into the range of integrity measures that already exist. What's more, integrity testing is in keeping with the basic principle that corruption is best fought through prevention and vigilance. As the committee heard from witnesses to the inquiry, integrity testing can speed up investigations and enhance the ability of agencies to mitigate corruption risks.

The committee gave some consideration to the dangers represented by entrapment and induceĀ­ment within a poorly structured integrity testing program. It was determined that entrapment and inducement are in effect the same kind of shortcoming, and that the key test for avoiding inducement in integrity testing is to ensure there is clear and straightforward opportunity for any person who is the subject of a test to pass or fail the test. Of equal importance is the need to ensure that law enforcement officers or staff are not placed in situations that would not be expected to occur as part of their ordinary duties.

The committee acknowledges that integrity testing may use significant law enforcement powers in some circumstances; which is why the committee has recommended appropriate legislation be put in place, with safeguards including:

the requirement for the Integrity Commissioner to be notified;

the discretion for the Integrity Commissioner to be involved or take control of integrity tests; and

oversight by Commonwealth Ombudsman and reporting to the Parliament.

The committee wishes to express its appreciation to all parties who contributed to the conduct of this inquiry, whether by making a written submission, by attending a public hearing or, as in many cases, by making both written and oral submissions.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.