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Thursday, 12 March 2009
Page: 2539

Mr HALE (3:27 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister inform the House about what the Australian Federal Police are doing to support policing in Iraq?

Mr DEBUS (Minister for Home Affairs) —Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Australian Federal Police forensic facilities with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, His Excellency Mr Nouri Kamel al-Maliki. The Australian government has committed itself to provide continuing assistance to Iraq, which has the purpose of ensuring that credible institutions can be built and maintained to serve the Iraqi people. Of course, the Iraqi police service is an important example of one of those institutions.

Some very significant research which has been conducted over recent years by the Australian Federal Police has revealed quite extraordinarily high correlations between the existence of the rule of law on the one hand and human development and economic prosperity on the other in countries around the world. That research very clearly demonstrates what common sense would suggest: that security and public order are critical to the success of emerging and developing states like Iraq. Australia is one of several donor countries now providing assistance to Iraq, along with the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

No matter what country they live in, people deserve the protection and security of a strong police force. That role is provided by the AFP with integrity and with professionalism in our own country, and that is why the government has entrusted the AFP to provide support and training to the Iraqi police service. Over the next three years the AFP will conduct training programs for over 240 members of the Iraqi police service, training especially designed to meet their particular needs. The program includes courses in advanced crime scene investigation, bomb data awareness, high-tech fingerprint chemical analysis, laboratory management, forensic biology and, not insignificantly, police leadership. The first officers from Iraq arrived in January and, over the course of the program, they will be drawn from right across that country.

During their three-month course they will have the opportunity to broaden their skills through access to the specialist knowledge and experience held by the AFP. Indeed, the AFP’s expertise in forensics, in particular, is recognised around the world. Training is conducted at the National Centre for Forensic Studies and the Canberra Institute of Technology.

After visiting Iraq in 2008, the AFP noted that their forensic laboratories were well equipped and that they might benefit from additional training that would build on their existing capabilities. As part of this program participants will benefit from leadership training at the renowned Australian Institute of Police Management. The aim of the program is to build strong relationships of trust between our two countries, and that does fulfil an important commitment made by the Australian government to the people of Iraq.