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Regional Processing Centre in Nauru
Commonwealth government's responsibilities relating to the management and operation of the Nauru Regional Processing Centre

McDONALD, Mr Brett, Security Contract Manager, Wilson Security

ROGERS, Mr John, Executive General Manager, Southern Pacific, Wilson Security

CHAIR: Welcome. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you. We have received your submission, which we have numbered as submission 21. I invite you to make a short opening statement and, after you have spoken, I will invite members of the committee to put questions to you.

Mr Rogers : Thank you for the opportunity to appear again before the committee. Since we last appeared, on 19 May, Wilson has responded to a number of submissions that have been made to the committee. Some of these submissions included a range of unsubstantiated claims, and we appreciate the opportunity to provide a response to those. I wish to reassure the committee of our continuing commitment to delivering an excellent service under the guidance of Transfield Services and working in partnership with the other service providers. As noted by Mr Moss, the great majority of service provider staff are highly professional, and I know they take great pride in what they do. We accepted Mr Moss's recommendations in their entirety, and we seek to continuously improve the quality of our support to the Commonwealth.

For the committee, I would like to address three general areas. Firstly, I am aware of an incident where a staff member, without authorisation or direction from the company, took it upon himself to act incorrectly towards Senator Hanson-Young while the senator was visiting Nauru. I wish to reassure the committee that this activity was not part of any organised or approved security measure regarding the senator's visit but the isolated actions of a misguided individual. As soon as a responsible manager of the company was made aware of the activity, the individual was stood down and the subject of disciplinary action. Although, as I mentioned, the activity was not sanctioned by Wilson Security, I offer an unreserved apology to Senator Hanson-Young for any distress that this may have caused.

Secondly, there have been a number of unsubstantiated claims made about our staff to this committee since our last appearance here. It is a concern to us that such claims have been represented as fact in some public commentary. I would ask that the committee test the evidence for these claims and consider any claim in the same light that they would be considered under any reasonable application of natural justice. I can assure the committee of this: where an allegation is made with conclusive supporting evidence, the company has taken entirely appropriate action regarding the safeguarding of those in our care, and this is well documented. Allegations in this category are a minority. Far more common are allegations where, after thorough investigation, insufficient evidence is found to enable us to take decisive action against an individual. To characterise such unsubstantiated or unproven allegations as a systemic problem is inaccurate and unhelpful, particularly given the range of motivations that may be behind them. It is particularly harmful to the reputations of the many staff who have performed exceptionally in complex and demanding conditions and whose efforts to fulfil their responsibilities under our contract should be commended. We have no tolerance for individuals who are unable to uphold our exacting standards of conduct, and we do not hesitate to remove such individuals from our organisation. I can assure the committee that all allegations are taken extremely seriously and investigated with rigour to attempt to determine the full facts, in order to take appropriate action where necessary.

Thirdly, and finally, we are absolutely committed in our support for the implementation of the recommendations of Mr Moss's review. We are proud of the progress we have made and the improvements to the overall operation of the centre that these recommendations have underpinned. We have commenced a review of our code of conduct to strengthen existing guidelines that govern acceptable behaviour. We are in the process of expanding our professional development program for officers with regard to safeguarding children and sexual harassment. We have engaged an independent company to conduct quality reviews of investigations involving staff misconduct. We welcome any questions that the committee may have.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mr Rogers. Just a point of clarification for my understanding: you do not hold a contract with the Commonwealth; you are only a subcontractor for Transfield?

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: When Wilson undertook the subcontract, in effect, as you have just explained to us, did you believe that you were required to act under international human rights obligations?

Mr Rogers : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Did you undertake any due diligence on that matter before you took up the contract?

Mr Rogers : I would describe the process we went through as a review of the relevant international legislation and agreements, consideration of Australian law and Nauruan law and our own obligations that we impose on ourselves through a range of internal policies. We are also obliged to conform to Transfield Services policy under the terms of our subcontract and, by extension, the departmental policy. The due diligence was a review of relevant legislation and documentation, and that has resulted in us including reference to specific documents in various of our SOPs and site operating instructions for the centre. I can ask Brett to provide some further detail perhaps on some of those specific documents.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, if you wouldn't mind. You heard the questions I asked of Transfield, so you would appreciate where I am going with this. Can you enlighten the committee on what action your company took with regard to the due diligence process on human rights?

Mr McDonald : We had a number of obligations on us to produce standard operating procedures and risk assessments. The dates varied from within the first seven days to the first 30 days. Firstly, I should say that many of the guidelines provided by the department to us actually cover the obligations to meet those human rights obligations, but we wrote into our standard operating procedures the obligations on us under the UN conventions relating to refugees, children, women, torture and trauma as part of our overall standard operating procedure.

Senator KIM CARR: Did you produce a document?

Mr McDonald : We did.

Senator KIM CARR: Can we have access to that document?

Mr Rogers : We can certainly provide that on notice.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you very much. How well do you think you have fulfilled your obligations?

Mr Rogers : I believe by any measure we have performed very well under the terms of our contract. We have got a very stringent performance management framework in place. I think we have consistently exceeded the requirements of that performance management framework, and there have been one or two minor exceptions to that.

Senator KIM CARR: I will come to one or two of those, and there are probably a few more than that. Do you think your subcontract replaces any obligation to protect the security of the detainees?

Mr Rogers : Can you just rephrase the question, Senator?

Senator KIM CARR: I will try and explain what I mean. I would like to know who is responsible for the security of the people that the Australian government locks up on Nauru. Are you?

Mr Rogers : We have a subcontract, which we have provided on notice, that describes the range of services that we do provide and they include providing security staff and security and emergency management process and procedure. So it is very clear in the contract, which we have provided to the committee, exactly what our obligations are.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you think you fulfil that? You can guarantee the security of people detained in that centre?

Mr Rogers : I think we do a very professional and capable job of delivering the services we are contracted to deliver, Senator; yes.

Senator KIM CARR: What then do you say to the observations that the Moss review has documented about examples of people's security not being protected?

Mr Rogers : Any allegation or claim of the type raised by Mr Moss—a number of which have been raised directly with us or directly with Transfield—is of great concern. And it is absolutely essential that we have the processes in place to do everything we can to prevent events occurring or, if they do occur, to mitigate the outcomes from those events and to take corrective actions to ensure that they do not occur again. Mr Moss made a number of very constructive recommendations, and we are working very hard with Transfield, our client, and the department to make sure that we have implemented them.

Senator KIM CARR: Is it too much to expect that we guarantee the security of people that the Commonwealth of Australia detains in centres such as this?

Mr Rogers : Senator, I can comment on our performance of the services that we are contracted to perform, and against any objective measure which is applied through that performance management framework. We are performing very well against the contract.

Senator KIM CARR: That is not quite the same as ensuring the security of people that we as the Commonwealth of Australia have detained—which is the service that you are subcontracted to provide. My question is: is it too much to expect that, when we detain people in a facility such as that on Nauru, we guarantee their security?

Mr Rogers : Senator, it is a very complex and challenging environment. To manage all of the services in that environment—there are a range of contracts and subcontracts in place—and the contractors to perform those services—I can assure you that, under any measure of our performance, we are doing a very professional job.

Senator KIM CARR: Look, it troubles me enormously that this parliament appropriates very large sums of money on these facilities, yet we cannot stop women from being raped or children from being sexually abused in these facilities—which, as I say, are funded by the Commonwealth. Why can you not guarantee that?

Mr Rogers : Well, a guarantee has a very specific legal sense, Senator. It is a very complex and challenging environment: I can assure you and assure the committee that we implement best practice to ensure that the standard of security—and the environment that people are living in—is industry-leading and world-leading in the quality of that environment.

CHAIR: Just on that point about being industry-leading: do you conduct drug and alcohol testing on site?

Mr Rogers : On the site in Nauru?


Mr Rogers : We do.

CHAIR: So you have alcohol and—

Mr Rogers : Sorry; let me just clarify, Senator: we conduct alcohol testing. We do not conduct drug testing.

CHAIR: Why not?

Mr Rogers : Because we can conduct the initial test but, for it to be evidentially admissible, we need to be able to conduct a second test, and that second test needs to be conducted in a laboratory—which cannot be done in Nauru. So until we are able to find a solution to that logistical issue—

CHAIR: I am sure that that logistical issue has been solved in a number of mine sites around Australia, where there are very high numbers of fly-in fly-out workers, and where companies and contractors and truck drivers are subjected to random testing. This the first time I have ever heard of an organisation that is employing quite a number of people which is unable to actually get saliva testing or urine testing for drugs and alcohol operational. And I accept that it is challenging, but it is no different to Groote Island and it is no different to Christmas Creek, Solomon Mine or any of the other large mines around this country where anybody who drives in, flies in, walks in, or works there is subjected to drug and alcohol testing—from the managing director down. What is so complex and challenging in Nauru that this simple, common-sense safeguard cannot be implemented?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to add some operational detail to this, but we have taken very clear advice and we have consulted on this matter. There is nothing we would like more than to be able to do this, but for it to be legitimate it clearly has to provide a level of procedural fairness for the people being tested and to be able to be managed properly. But I will ask Brett to—

CHAIR: If you want to test whether there is alcohol or drugs in a person's system, you use a saliva test. If you want to take them to court and prosecute them is another matter, but you immediately know whether people have it in their system or not. I struggle to accept this. You tell us you are doing world standard stuff. Well, give us the comfort and security that all of your workers are not affected by drugs or alcohol and we can move on.

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to finish the answer to your question.

Mr McDonald : Senator, you have probably alluded to part of the answer in your question—that is, the two different requirements. We have the capability to do saliva drug testing on the island; we have the tests on the island and the training and the policy, and we rolled that out. Where we came unstuck was simply that in the event that somebody was detected, the union objected to us being able to then take any disciplinary action with that person because we could not get a secondary blood test to a laboratory within a certain period of time. It is that particular bit that is challenging us. It is not the challenge of the initial test or our capability, it is being able to then take some reasonable action in accordance with our policy. This is where we are stuck and we have not been able to resolve this.

CHAIR: I just find that absolutely confusing. There are a number of remote locations in Australia where it is undertaken satisfactorily. I will move on.

Senator JOHNSTON: The reason you cannot dismiss people and exact some form of disciplinary action is because of the tremendously high proportion of false positives in all of the testing that goes around random drug and alcohol testing—correct?

Mr McDonald : Yes.

Senator JOHNSTON: Secondly, which particular drug do you test for, if at all?

Mr Rogers : Based on our drug and alcohol policy, we would actually publish a list, but I do not believe we have currently published that pending resolving any of these issues.

CHAIR: You could start with marijuana; that is the one that has been suggested.

Senator JOHNSTON: So Nauru is a considerable distance from an accredited laboratory for secondary testing to affirm an initial positive.

Mr Rogers : Correct.

Mr McDonald : That is right.

Senator JOHNSTON: Correct me if I am wrong: the technical problem is that the sample changes its molecular structure; it ferments over time and gives a different reading to the result given at the time it was taken. That is the problem that most mine sites have in Australia, and I am sure that is the problem Nauru has, except multiplied by the huge distance it has to travel.

Mr Rogers : And the lack of scheduled flights.

CHAIR: I am sure there is a technical solution to this.

Senator KIM CARR: Can I continue? I am interested to know about the 11 security employees or subcontractors who have been disciplined or terminated in response to specific incidents, including sexual assault and excessive force, between November 2013 and March 2015. You agree with that assessment you have provided us with? I have not misrepresented that?

Mr Rogers : I believe they sound like the figures we have provided.

Senator KIM CARR: What does that tell you? You have 11 examples of that type of conduct that you would acknowledge to the committee. Does that demonstrate that your practices are adequate?

Mr Rogers : Perhaps if I describe some of the examples in greater detail, it would probably add some clarity to the issue overall. When we talk about mistreatment of children—I want to describe the six cases of staff who have been terminated or, in the case of a subcontractor, who have been refused access back to the site. In effect, they will never work for us again. One of those matters regarded an allegation that a guard used threatening language towards two minors. That allegation was investigated. It was determined that it was, in all likelihood, true and the individual, who was engaged through a subcontractor, never returned to the site. In the second allegation, via the complaints process, it was alleged that a locally employed, subcontracted staff member had struck a minor. This matter was investigated. Sufficient evidence was determined to warrant terminating that staff member and he was terminated.

In the next matter, a minor alleged he was pushed by a locally employed, subcontracted staff member, in this case a female staff member. That was reported by other staff. It was investigated and the individual was terminated. In the next matter, a locally employed, female, subcontracted staff member had an inappropriate physical relationship with a 17-year-old transferee. That was actually reported by her as an indecent assault by the transferee and it was reported to the Nauru Police Force. Fortunately the Nauru Police Force investigated and determined that it was completely consensual. Her conduct was completely inappropriate and unacceptable and she was terminated.

The last matter, I believe, was an expatriate staff member who, in removing some misbehaving children from a bus, effectively smacked one of them on the bottom. That was identified by other staff. It was reported. It was investigated. Sufficient evidence was produced to conclude that it was completely inappropriate, well beyond any threshold of any kind of conduct that we would ever accept, and that staff member was terminated.

I believe that the answer to your question is that there have been a number of isolated incidents. I believe we have got a very strong code of conduct. I believe that, almost universally, we have staff of the highest quality with good training, the best of intentions and the greatest respect for the people that they are caring for. There have been some exceptions. When those exceptions have been proven we have acted entirely appropriately and we have no tolerance for people who cannot meet our standard of conduct.

Senator KIM CARR: It has been put to the committee that there have been occasions where Wilson Security staff have intentionally provoked detainees to violence. Are you aware of that?

Mr Rogers : I am aware of the assertion. There has certainly been no evidence of that provided to us. If something like that had occurred it would be completely inappropriate, it would be completely in contravention of our code of conduct and an individual who was found to have behaved in that way would be terminated.

Senator KIM CARR: And have they?

Mr Rogers : No.

Senator KIM CARR: You have not been able to demonstrate—

Mr Rogers : We have not been able to prove an allegation like that.

Senator KIM CARR: It has also been put to the committee that there has been a directive issued to Wilson staff requiring them to call transferees by their names rather than their boat ID numbers. Is that correct?

Mr Rogers : Perhaps I could speak to the standard practice, which is to refer to individuals by their names. For some administrative reasons sometimes people are recorded by their name and their boat number, and it is conceivable that sometimes they could be recorded by their boat number, but the practice would be for people to call people by their names.

Senator KIM CARR: Has that been the practice throughout the time in which you have been engaged on Nauru?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to assist with providing some operational detail from his time on Nauru. There have probably been times when we have had to make cultural corrections along the way, but I will ask Brett to perhaps respond in more detail.

Mr McDonald : Yes, there has always been a clear request or guideline by the department to ensure that we use names, and the clear reason is around the dignity and respect of the asylum seeker. As John said, that has not always been the case and there have been times when we have had to reinforce our correct procedure to people. There have been occasions when forms have been produced with just numbers on them and we have had to go about correcting those.

Senator KIM CARR: So the department has always required that you identify people by name.

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: So how were forms produced where that practice was not followed?

Mr Rogers : It was not the matter of the form; it was probably the matter of the person filling in the form under time pressure and potentially inaccurately.

Senator KIM CARR: How often did that occur?

Mr Rogers : I would not have an answer to that. I am sorry.

Senator KIM CARR: How often are you aware of people being referred to verbally by boat number rather than name?

Mr Rogers : Again, it would be impossible to put a number on it. The practice is to call people by their name.

Senator KIM CARR: I just cannot quite follow why it happens at all. If you are saying the department has always required people to be referred to in a respectful manner but there are occasions when this does not happen, how does that occur? That is the nature of your evidence, isn't it?

Mr Rogers : That is not the evidence that I have given.

Senator KIM CARR: All right. Please correct my mistake, then. How often does it occur that these departmental instructions are not followed?

Mr Rogers : I do not think it would be possible to put a figure on that, because of the number of engagements and interactions between individuals over the course of nearly two years.

Senator KIM CARR: We will clearly seek further evidence on this, but it has been put to us that it is practice to refer to people by boat number rather than by name.

Mr Rogers : What I can absolutely assure you of, Senator, is that the company's practice is to refer to people by their name, and we teach our staff that, and that is our requirement of our staff.

Senator KIM CARR: And that has always been the case?

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. I am told that you employ 358 fly-in fly-out staff and a total of 465 locally engaged staff, split between two local security providers, so there are over 100 fewer expat staff in your employ. There appear to be 180 complaints against expat staff and 91 against local staff. Is that right? In terms of the total number of complaints received, there are a disproportionate number against expats. Is that right or not?

Mr Rogers : I do not believe that would be the case. Could you just run through those figures again?

Senator KIM CARR: Despite the fact that there are 100 fewer expats than local staff, the number of complaints against the expats is disproportionately high—that is, 180 complaints against 91. Is that correct?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to assist with a comment, but I would suggest that there are a couple of contributing issues to those figures. The first would be the pattern of work that individuals perform—the roster structure that the expats are in and the specific roles that people are performing. Typically, if they are in greater direct contact with asylum seekers then there is greater opportunity for complaint. Would you care to comment further on that?

Mr McDonald : Yes. The only further comment—and maybe we can take a further question on notice for you—is that the further breakdown of those complaints can vary considerably. It can be a complaint of, 'I haven't been allowed in the front gate.' Where we rostered staff may skew that result.

Senator KIM CARR: Can you give me a breakdown of those complaints by category, please? I am interested to know why there seems to be a disproportionate number of complaints in those two categories, despite the fact that there are fewer people—there is not a 50-50 break in the staff. I also understand that expat salaries are five times those of locally engaged staff. Do they work similar hours?

Mr Rogers : Our expat staff work a roster cycle that is two weeks on the island and two off. During their two weeks on, they do a week of day shifts and a week of night shifts. The local staff would tend to work a series of day or night shifts, depending on their availability and their preference; it is a less regular and less structured pattern of work because they do not need to conform to international flights and those sorts of things.

Senator KIM CARR: Is it right to assume that the expat staff have the more managerial and more skilled tasks?

Mr Rogers : They are certainly in some of the more specialised tasks, but we have a very strong focus on developing our Nauruan workforce into managerial roles to be able to build a sustainable workforce there that can support and manage itself.

Mr McDonald : Operationally, we have an equal number in supervisor and operational positions. It is the specialist staff where we have more expats.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you regard Wilson Security staff are subject to the Australian Border Force Act?

Mr Rogers : Yes, Senator.

Senator KIM CARR: On page 8 of your submission you say that 'Wilson Security employs investigators qualified in Certificate IV Government Investigations'. What does Certificate IV cover?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to respond to that one.

Mr McDonald : It is primarily around conducting investigations in accordance with the Australian investigation standards—understanding investigations methodology.

Senator KIM CARR: Investigations of what?

Mr McDonald : Our investigators on the island conduct investigations into complaints or allegations.

Mr Rogers : To clarify that further, all those investigators not only hold the qualifications, but they are typically experienced in either a state police force or the Australian Federal Police, by way of background.

Senator KIM CARR: Can you tell me how many of your employees hold that qualification?

Mr Rogers : I can certainly take that on notice.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. Where do your incident reports go? Who do you report to?

Mr Rogers : I will go back to describe the actual operational procedure in a bit of detail for you, but typically our reporting would go directly to Transfield.

Mr McDonald : We collate our incident reports in the Security Control Room, who are then tasked with verbal notifications to the department and service provider managers. Where it is a major or critical incident, they do a written report to a distribution list and each day incident reports are collected and passed on to data-entry teams who enter them into an information-management system.

Senator KIM CARR: Is there a statutory requirement for you to report allegations of sexual abuse?

Mr Rogers : It is certainly a contractual requirement and so it is a requirement that we stringently observe.

Senator KIM CARR: To whom do you report them? Do you report to local police if there is a criminal matter?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to respond directly to that.

Mr McDonald : No, we do not report directly to the police. Our process would remain the same. That would be a critical incident; it would be verbally reported to the department and the service providers and followed by a written report within the next couple of hours. Save the Children would take the lead in determining whether that would be reported to the police. We certainly provide some assistance, where requested.

Senator KIM CARR: In all cases is an incident report forwarded to the Australian government through the department?

Mr McDonald : Through the department is our only notification.

Senator KIM CARR: Of all instances?

Mr McDonald : Of all instances. That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you.

Mr McDonald : Could I just clarify? That is all incidents that are reported as an incident. From time to time, a disclosure may be made through a complaint, in which case, where a complaint is made, that might be referred directly to Save the Children or the department at that level, not through the incident reporting.

Senator KIM CARR: That is in regard to children, but, in regard to adults, Moss refers to allegations concerning rape and threats of rape. And the allegations are quite detailed here of indecent assault and sexual harassment. When those matters come to your attention, you would, as a matter of course, report those?

Mr Rogers : Any matter of illegal or otherwise inappropriate behaviour would be reported. Our obligation is to report it, and we meet that obligation.

Senator KIM CARR: Moss refers to an incident—on what is page 411 in our papers—specifically referring to Wilson Security staff members, following an article that appeared in The Saturday Paper where it was said that, while waiting for a centre shuttle bus, two female transferees were subject to indecent exposure and lewd gestures by Wilson Security staff members. Moss also says:

Wilson Security decided that there was not enough information to pursue the matter further. Although Wilson Security had no record of the first complaint, the Transfield Services complaints logbook showed that a complaint was received on 14 August 2014.

Is that accurate?

Mr Rogers : That may well be accurate. The process in place—and again I will ask Brett to assist with any operational detail—is that the responsibility for the management of complaints sits with Transfield Services, not with Wilson. So it is entirely conceivable that an individual could make a complaint and that complaint would be made directly to Transfield Services and we would not necessarily be aware. If we were made aware of a matter like that—in this case, I would expect, by Transfield Services—then we would investigate it and act in accordance with the outcome of that investigation. Are you able to comment further?

Mr McDonald : I am not able to comment on this specific one. I just cannot recall enough detail there. The only bit I would add is that sometimes complaint forms come in and need to be translated, and that does cause a few days. Where we are given a complaint, we have got three days in which to attempt to resolve it and, if we cannot resolve it, we have got to then go back to both the complainant and the department with further reasons.

Senator KIM CARR: This is Moss's report. This is not some people that you have made allegations against stirring up trouble on the island or tutoring people in protests, or any of the other claims that were made that led to the dismissal of Save the Children employees. What this report says to us is that Wilson Security decided there was not enough information to pursue the matter. When the matter was referred to the Moss review, the review referred the information to the department, with a recommendation that Transfield Services review the matter. The matter was subsequently referred to the Nauruan police. The report goes on to say—and correct me if I have misread this in any way:

The Review was unable to locate any incident or information reports, complaints or any other details from any other source, about the allegation.

If the matter was referred to the police, why weren't you able to find evidence that the matter had actually been reported to the Australian government?

Mr Rogers : I would be happy to review the circumstances around this whole thing and provide that answer on notice. I am probably unable to provide you with sufficient detail at the moment, but we can certainly give you a response on notice.

Senator KIM CARR: Would it not be evidence that there is an underreporting of human rights abuses of people under your care?

Mr Rogers : No, I do not believe so.

Senator KIM CARR: 'When in Nauru the review received other accounts of alleged sexual harassment. These accounts were generally not reported and did not result in any information that can be referred for investigation,' says the review. Do you think that is wrong?

Mr Rogers : No. What I would say is that we have processes in place, as do the other service providers, to encourage complaints or reporting of any inappropriate conduct and none of those complaints or reports relating to those matters had been provided before Mr Moss spoke to some of those witnesses.

Senator KIM CARR: How would we know that Moss is incorrect, when he draws attention to the underreporting of sexual abuse?

Mr Rogers : Sorry—I am not suggesting that he is incorrect at all. What I am saying is that there is a process in place, and that process encourages people to make complaints or to report inappropriate conduct or behaviour.

Senator KIM CARR: My point to you, though, is that surely it demonstrates how inadequate those processes are, given what Mr Moss has found.

Mr Rogers : And, as I explained right at the outset, of the recommendations that Mr Moss has made, we are completely supportive and look forward to continuing to improve the service we deliver to the Commonwealth.

Senator KIM CARR: When does your contract expire?

Mr Rogers : Our subcontract for Nauru expires on 31 October.

Senator KIM CARR: The same as—

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: And I take it that at that point you will have to retender for the work with the new contractor, whether that is Transfield or someone else.

Mr Rogers : I guess that would be a commercial consideration.

Senator KIM CARR: You will have to make that call on whether or not you seek the work. Is that what you are saying?

Mr Rogers : No, what I am saying is that there are some commercially confidential discussions that we have had, and I would be happy to provide a response on notice and in confidence.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, if you would, please. But am I correct to assume that you are seeking to continue your work on the island?

Mr Rogers : Yes, you are.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you think the changes in the policy positions that have been outlined, in terms of Transfield's human rights statements—and there appears to be the new draft contract—are matters that you can satisfy?

Mr Rogers : Our hope would be to negotiate a subcontract with Transfield Services again. We are already compelled to conform to their human rights policy, so we are covered by that in terms of our—

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, but it is a new policy.

Mr Rogers : We are still bound to that under our subcontract, even though it is a new policy, and we are very happy to continue to be bound by those instruments.

CHAIR: Why do Transfield even need you? They run garrison services around the country. What do you bring that is so special in this relationship?

Mr Rogers : I believe we provide an industry-leading approach to the security services specifically. When you look at the breakdown of responsibilities that Transfield has subcontracted to us, we are not into facilities management, catering or maintenance or pest control or any of those other areas; we are very focused into a specialist security environment. We have performed security services for Transfield Services, including in a Defence garrison environment for something like the past seven years or so, so that is how they were familiar with our—

CHAIR: So, what has changed in Nauru, given that Nauru was to be an open centre where people could cook and move around the community? And then I understand that in discussions with the Nauruan government it became a more closed security environment. Are you familiar with that?

Mr Rogers : I am probably not able to comment on that—

CHAIR: It is a fact, though, isn't it?

Mr Rogers : Again, I will ask Brett to perhaps—

CHAIR: You have given an example of the security you provide. At some point in time, did the environment in Nauru change from an open plan, 'let's get this thing sorted out', and people moving around the community, to being more fixed and 'you shall not move in the community'?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett perhaps to address that initially. He was there right from the very start.

Mr McDonald : It started as a closed centre. During that time—whilst I was not privy to it—there were conversations about the arrangements for that open centre. It was only earlier this year that they started moving towards an open centre—but it is only a set number of people per day that are currently able to go out into the open centre.

CHAIR: What risks do these detainees pose to Nauruans or to your staff that they need such close security monitoring?

Mr Rogers : Our role under the contract is controlling access to the centre, monitoring the perimeter of the centre, responding to emergencies, providing direct support to high-risk individuals. So it is a range of those kinds of functions that are going to be required in some form or another.

CHAIR: I get a bit confused. You can drive around Nauru—the eight miles takes about 17 minutes. I am not sure why need a totally closed-in secure facility, on an atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with a thousand-odd guards, but I will leave that to others to answer.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Mr Rogers, you said in your opening statement that perhaps this committee has received evidence from others that Wilson Security does not accept or does not agree with. I want to go to a number of cases in relation to specific allegations. I find it difficult to believe that somehow all these former staff—whether they be Transfield, Wilson Security or indeed Save the Children—are making all of this up? Some very consistent issues have been raised over the 40 or so accounts of staff or former staff that have been put forward to this committee. I firstly want to go to the issue raised by Ms Vibhakar's submission, who was a former Save the Children worker, in relation to an incident on 8 December 2013, alleging that a Wilson security guard had been often seen visiting a tent of a female asylum seeker at around 2 o'clock in the morning. This guard was seen to give female asylum seekers in this tent pairs of shoes and in return the asylum seekers referred to this guard as 'my lover'. Are you aware of this incident? And, if so, what was done to investigate it?

Mr Rogers : I believe that we were only made aware of it through the comment arising from the submission to which you refer. It is not to my knowledge recorded in any kind of incident report or complaint from anyone within the centre. Given that the allegation was not levelled at a specific person and given that it is some 18 months post the matter, the ability to investigate the matter is quite challenging. Could you just confirm the date that you mentioned?

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: It was 8 December. Ms Vibhakar states that in an email sent to Save the Children management, so she has clearly documented it as a worker

Mr Rogers : Sorry, I wrote down 8 December 2013.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: That is right. And that is the date of an email that this worker gave to Save the Children management in relation to this issue. So there is clearly, at that level, an incident raised. And you are saying that you were not made aware of that.

Mr Rogers : I do not believe that Wilson has been made aware of that matter.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: On 21 April 2014, there was an allegation that an asylum seeker who had claimed to have been punched in the face by a service provider was offered dentures if he would withdraw his complaint. Are you aware of that incident?

Mr Rogers : I will check with Brett as to whether we have got any record of that, but what I would say is—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I just want to point out here that the witness to this committee said that she completed an incident report on 21 April 2014 in relation to that incident.

Mr Rogers : If an allegation like that had been raised it would have been investigated. Clearly, we would never instruct or encourage our staff to try to get someone to remove or withdraw a complaint. A number of complaints do get withdrawn over time, but that would be a complete departure from our code of conduct and the set of values that we teach these staff to apply. Brett, have you got any specific comment on that matter?

Mr McDonald : Certainly not in relation to the allegation where we offered to pay for departures. There have been previous incidents where we have reported and investigated striking another asylum seeker but certainly not in relation to the claim about the dentures.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: There is, of course, the case that I have raised with you and with Transfield Services this morning but also previously. It is the first reported incident that we have been able to find in relation to the abuse of a child in November 2013. This child were sexually assaulted by a Transfield cleaner on 16 November 2013. Last time we spoke about this you said, 'We're not responsible for the cleaners.' You are aware of the incident I am referring to. We have been given evidence from Save the Children staff that they were instructed not to report this incident to the police but to in fact report it to Wilson Security. Even though the cleaner was apparently another contractor of Transfield Services, it has been put to us that it was Wilson Security that managed the investigation and response to that incident.

Mr Rogers : I will again get Brett to comment on the detail, and I cannot speak for what the Save the Children staff were instructed to do. What I can describe is the very well-recognised standard process that we have got in place, which would be that, if that matter had been raised with Save the Children and it was regarding a child's welfare, their procedure would be to report that to the Nauruan police force. We would assist in the provision of interpreters for interviews and additional investigators to assist oversight of the investigation, but that would clearly be a matter between Save the Children and the Nauruan police force. I cannot imagine why someone—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: We have been given evidence from more than one witness that it was Wilson Security that took over the investigation and management of this incident. I want to know whether that is correct, whether you are aware of the incident—you must be aware. It has been referenced even in this committee several times. Why was it that this incident was left until this committee started to investigate before anything was really done about the safety of this child?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to add some detail to that answer.

Mr McDonald : I can confirm that we did do the investigation in relation to that incident—and by 'investigation' I mean taking statements from the individuals involved, referring that to Transfield, who then referred that to the police. I want to provide some context for your information. That was in November 2013. The child safeguard policy and guideline was implemented, I believe, in early December, and it was really that policy that provided the framework for Save the Children taking the lead in those investigations.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: So this was prior to that being put in place?

Mr McDonald : That is correct.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Are you aware that as a result of this incident—and you would have heard my evidence in relation to Transfield officers earlier—this child and their family remained in the detention centre and became subject to further abuse and harassment as part of retribution because the staff member who had originally assaulted the child had friends who were still working in the centre, and they picked on the child as a result? Were you aware of that?

Mr Rogers : I do not believe we are aware of that. We would be happy to check any of the other incident reporting and get a response back to you on those.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I would be very interested to know if there are other incident reports as a follow-up to this particular issue. It has been documented quite clearly, in evidence to us, that this child continued to receive bullying from other members of staff inside the facility.

Mr Rogers : I would be very happy to investigate that and provide you with a response on notice.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Thank you. Would you also be able to tell me—and perhaps, Mr McDonald, you are in the best position for this—if Wilson Security conducted this investigation and Transfield Services were aware of it, would that also mean that the department was aware that this had occurred?

Mr McDonald : Yes, I can confirm that an incident report was completed and reported to the department—and an investigation report.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Is it the department which determines whether a child and its family stay in that facility?

Mr McDonald : I will have to say yes to that. It is certainly not something which any of the service providers have the ability to influence.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: There have been some other very serious allegations that have been raised throughout this inquiry. I am not sure if you have seen the submission by Charlotte Wilson, a former Save the Children member, who says that there was filming of solicited sex between asylum seekers and Wilson Security staff. Have you seen that submission?

Mr Rogers : Yes, I have seen the submission.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: What is your response to that?

Mr Rogers : I have been unable to find any evidence whatsoever that would suggest that our staff have solicited with regard to asylum seekers, filmed or otherwise distributed via any kind of material, as is suggested in Ms Wilson's submission. That has never been reported. It has never been even rumoured, to my knowledge, and I do not know where that suggestion has come from.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Have you been aware of an incident where a Transfield cook or chef performed oral sex on a Wilson Security staff member—so, staff member to staff member—which was recorded and distributed amongst officers?

Mr Rogers : No, I am not aware of that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: When you were first made aware of this filming of sex in this submission put forward—you said you could not find any evidence—what did you do to investigate?

Mr Rogers : As soon as we saw the submission, we went back though our records and conducted key word searches through the various reporting formats that we have and also queries back to the management and leadership teams on each of the islands.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: So you tried to see whether something was filed in relation to an incident like this?

Mr Rogers : And whether there was any other meaningful information around a matter like this.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Who has access to cameras in the facility?

Mr Rogers : Could I take that on notice. Within the facility itself, there are a number of staff who have GoPro mobile cameras for the purpose of capturing security-related imagery. I do not have an exact number of those, but we can certainly obtain that and provide that on notice.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: And what team they are in. We did have a bit of a discussion about this last time. There was not very much clarity about exactly how many people wore them and how often they wore them. Some clarification about the protocols of the wearing of the GoPros would be helpful. You also said in evidence last time that video footage would often be deleted if it was not deemed to be important. It strikes me that that is quite concerning. We are hearing that things like sex tapes are being made. Whether that is a rumour or fact, it has least been alleged. Then we have other evidence put to this committee that footage in relation to the July 2013 riots was deleted. Have you perhaps rethought the protocols around the deletion of footage?

Mr Rogers : If I could quickly clarify a couple of things there. I do not believe that we had any kind of individual video cameras in place at the time of the July 2013 riot. I believe there was one video camera that was there for the purposes of recording the events that occurred and it was destroyed during the riot. That was the only matter that I am aware of.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: So you do not think that there is any footage that exists from that particular incident?

Mr Rogers : There is none held by the company that I have been able to obtain. I will ask Brett to perhaps add some details around the procedures and the questions you have asked regarding the procedures.

Mr McDonald : In relation to your question around whether we are looking into any different procedures, we are actually in the process of trialling a new system. It is called MVIEW. It uploads footage to a secure website without any intervention by a person and then provides an audit log from that. Any deletions or views, et cetera, will then be auditable. That strengthens our current procedure.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Why have you decided to take that action?

Mr McDonald : It initially came about as a result of a review of the guidelines, which we do annually. The review started in March this year.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Is it that you were looking for footage that subsequently does not exist?

Mr Rogers : No, we are always going through a review and audit process of our procedures with a view to being able to improve them. This was identified. Brett identified to me a potential improvement that we could make. I have approved going through and implementing that improvement.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: So there has never been a specific incident where you have inadvertently deleted footage that you needed subsequently?

Mr Rogers : I am not aware of anything that has supposedly had evidential value that we have then inadvertently deleted.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Has the immigration department ever asked you about your record keeping in relation to footage collected inside the facility?

Mr Rogers : I am unaware of that, but I will ask Brett if there is any response there.

Mr McDonald : We have had some requests by Transfield about our current recordkeeping in relation to CCTV footage and digital photography. With the review that we do on our guidelines, we actually do that in conjunction with Transfield and the department. The discussions are normally joint, in relation to what we need to look at and update.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Has there ever been a leaking of footage gathered from inside the facility that you are aware of?

Mr Rogers : I am unaware of any.

Mr McDonald : I am not sure whether footage has been. There have definitely been photos from within inside the centre that have been taken and published.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: But as far as you know, you have not identified any lapses, so of footage being unauthorised in terms of its release?

Mr Rogers : I think there has been a number of images released by, in some cases, asylum seekers with contraband phones or cameras.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: No, I am talking about your official GoPros.

Mr Rogers : No, I am not aware of that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Mr Rogers, obviously this allegation of the solicitation of sex and the filming of that is pretty serious. I hear from you that you have got nothing on your files that indicates this is correct. I put to you a new allegation in relation to footage of staff having sex with each other that has allegedly been circulated. You are saying you have got no file notes or incident reports in relation to this. Are you concerned that these kinds of rumours are coming out of the facility? And these are from staff. These are staff members who are coming forward to this committee. What interest do these people have in making this up?

Mr Rogers : I am sure people are acting from the best of intentions. I am sure they are making their own judgements on the information that they have had presented to them. I cannot really speak, apart from that, as to the motivation to make any of these allegations.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Mr McDonald, you were on the island for a long time. There are a whole raft of allegations that have been put to us as a committee from your own staff members. What is your view—is there truth to some of these rumours or are people simply disgruntled? They are pretty serious. We have got evidence saying this. You guys say you do not have evidence at all. It is a bit hard to match the two up.

Mr Rogers : I am sure Brett will want to answer your question, but I went through in some detail, before, what I hoped would demonstrate the threshold of tolerance that we have for any kind of inappropriate conduct. We have no tolerance whatsoever for people who are unable to meet our code of conduct and our ethical standards, and we will act absolutely decisively to remove those people from our operation. With regard to the broader nature of those allegations, if Mr McDonald has got an observation then that would be good.

Mr McDonald : It is really hard to answer an individual's motivations for coming forward. From my time on the island, my observations are that it is extremely complex. You have got different ethnic groups and you have got a local culture and understandably asylum seekers do not want to be there, and so it is not uncommon to have a large number of allegations. That is the key reason why we really do have to follow a pretty tight framework with the investigation. But as to the actual motivation for why they come and say it—it is hard. I am not for one minute suggesting that a person—a staff member especially—is generally probably reporting on what they may have been told.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Were you aware that the AFP were investigating a number of your staff for suspected steroid possession?

Mr Rogers : We were made aware of an allegation, I think 18 months ago or so.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Were you surprised that the Australian Federal Police would be investigating your staff?

Mr Rogers : Yes. I think it is fair to say I was surprised.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Has there been any result of those investigations?

Mr Rogers : None at all.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: We obviously have some information from the department that these investigations were underway, but there is no conclusive evidence about it?

Mr Rogers : We have had really no further—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: No-one has told you whether it has concluded or not?

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: That is surprising, isn't it? You would want to know, surely, if your staff are trafficking steroids into Nauru.

Mr Rogers : I am sure if that were the case then we would know, because the investigation would have concluded that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: One of the more recent submissions that has been given to us is from one of the teachers that was employed by Save the Children. This was earlier this year. It is in relation to the sexual assault of a seven-year-old child in early 2015. Are you aware of any incident that relates to the sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl inside the facility?

Mr Rogers : I am not specifically.

Mr McDonald : Senator, I am aware of a disclosure—and I believe it was around about February or so of this year—that was passed on as an incident report from a disclosure to a Save the Children staff member.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: This must be the same case. There are a number of issues that have been raised in this teacher's submission. She talks about the condition of this child. Obviously, I am extremely concerned to hear that, despite the allegations that were aired very publicly in October and in the Moss review, we now have another case as early as February relating to such a young child. Do you know whether this child is still in the detention facility?

Mr Rogers : I am unaware of that, Senator; I am sorry.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Who would be able to give us that information?

Mr Rogers : I think that should be directed to the department.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Mr McDonald, you do not have any update?

Mr McDonald : I am not familiar with that particular child—whether she still remains in the centre; sorry, Senator.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: One of the concerns raised by the teacher was that she tried to get some more information about what had occurred in the investigation into the incident that had happened so that she could help manage this child's behaviour and care for her. She was told that she had no right to know about that information. There are these different groups: you have Transfield; you have Wilson Security; you have the department; you have Save the Children. When you are talking about the welfare of the child, surely there needs to be a bit more communication or collaboration about how that child's care is managed. Whose responsibility is it to make sure that all those partners are talking to each other?

Mr Rogers : With regard to the welfare of children, that is very clearly a contractual requirement on Save the Children. Save the Children regularly request support from us to assist in that regard, and we provide that support very reliably and regularly and consistently. The lead agency, if I understand your question, would be Save the Children.

Mr McDonald : Senator, there are three different forums which provide avenues to collect that information. There is a daily operations meeting with all the heads of each service provider and the department; there is a weekly complex behaviour review; and a daily review of vulnerable asylum seekers. All service providers attend those forums, and that is where we share information about it. If there was an incident where somebody was not able to get the information, that certainly would have then been addressed at the daily operations meeting.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I am just rereading the evidence that the teacher has given in relation to this incident. She says that the child was being watched by the perpetrator outside the fence that looks into the school. Was anything done to make sure that perpetrator could not continue watching the child while she was in a learning environment?

Mr Rogers : I am probably unable to comment on that. I would be happy to review it, take it on notice and provide you with a response.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Could you, please. I am concerned about it in terms of it being evidence that we are collecting in the inquiry, but I am also just genuinely concerned about what is going on with this child now.

Mr McDonald : We will take it on notice and get all the available information. But the particular asylum seeker who the allegation was made against: when it was referred to the police, he was charged, and his bail conditions also prevented him from being within a certain distance, from memory. I will get that specific information. So there was some protection there to take action if that was the case.

CHAIR: Can I just ask a question in respect to Save the Children. Did Wilson Security make any formal submissions or findings or evidence in respect to the decision that was made to remove Save the Children?

Mr Rogers : No. We have given evidence with regard to the report that was submitted by one of our intelligence analysts.

CHAIR: Clearly, Save the Children were regarded as the responsible entity for child safety by all contractual organisations on Nauru. Is it your evidence that anything to do with child safety was Save the Children's responsibility?

Mr Rogers : They are the lead agency, Senator; yes.

CHAIR: When they were gone, what did you do?

Mr Rogers : Save the Children have never been gone.

CHAIR: When the nine people who were undertaking those activities were removed, did you just carry on as normal?

Mr Rogers : Save the Children continued to deliver their services with other staff.

CHAIR: And you were not party to any of the evidence that led to their removal?

Mr Rogers : Only the report that was prepared by one of our intelligence analysts.

Senator KIM CARR: On that point: given that the intelligence analyst put that report in and it was repudiated by Moss, what have you done about it?

Mr Rogers : What have we done about what, Senator?

Senator KIM CARR: The report of your intelligence officer, which led to the deportation of those Save the Children personnel, was referred to the Moss review. The Moss review said that there was no evidence to sustain the charge. What have you done about that intelligence officer?

Mr Rogers : Could I just start by saying: intelligence analysis is a predictive, probability-based activity.

Senator KIM CARR: This is where you tell me what you do when you are wrong, is it not?

Mr Rogers : If I finish the response, Senator, and if it does not satisfy you, I will be happy to answer another question. In this case Mr Moss did not say that the report was wrong; he said that there was no conclusive evidence. An intelligence report does not have conclusive evidence in it. What it did was draw together a number of variables and a number of factors and drew some conclusions and recommended that an investigation be conducted to then provide evidence. An intelligence report is never intended to be evidence; it is intended to inform risks to the safety and security of the people in the centre.

Senator KIM CARR: So, Mr Rogers, are you now saying that you were mistaken, or are you saying that Moss just could not find any evidence to sustain your well-founded belief?

Mr Rogers : I am not saying it was a well-founded belief; I am saying, Senator, that it was an assessment that an intelligence officer made at that point in time based on the facts that he had available to him. It is like weather forecasting.

Senator KIM CARR: I would have thought the weather bureau is a little bit better than that! The fact remains that these people were removed from the island on the basis of that report which the independent review did not sustain. Is that not correct?

Mr Rogers : Could I take that on notice, because I would like to check Mr Moss's exact words with regard to that report.

Senator KIM CARR: He did not sustain the case against the personnel.

Mr Rogers : He did say that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that—

Senator KIM CARR: Do you regard that as he did sustain it, then?

Mr Rogers : No. The intelligence report was never intended and is never going to be able to provide conclusive proof, but it can cue subsequent actions—for example, triggering an investigation into something.

CHAIR: I have two quick questions before we go to Senator Ludlam. There is a differential in remuneration between locally-employed and fly-in fly-out workers. Does that cause any antipathy in the workforce?

Mr Rogers : Nothing that has really been documented. We were very careful early on in two areas. First of all, we wanted to strike a rate for expatriate staff that would attract good quality people with relevant backgrounds, skills and the appetite to work in a difficult and challenging environment. At the same time, we wanted to engage local subcontractors and local staff at rates that were not going to unnecessarily attract good quality people out of government essential services such as the police force, the fire department, teaching and the like. So the relative rates are struck within the labour markets that we are sourcing those people from.

CHAIR: We understand that there are about 10,000 people on Nauru and that there has historically been a high level of unemployment, but I think that we are getting some evidence that there is a fairly high attrition rate here—people are either not turning up for work or relinquishing their tasks, or they may not be not up to speed, educated or trained to do your tasks. Are you experiencing difficulty filling the roles in Nauru with competent trained professionals?

Mr Rogers : I would say no.

CHAIR: Professional security providers?

Mr Rogers : The answer is no, we are not having difficulty filling the roles. We provide the training so that we are confident that we are getting people who understand the culture, the policies, the procedures, the structures that they are working in; who have the ability to communicate; and who show the level of dignity and respect that we demand, with regard to the people that they are caring for. What is an ongoing challenge is attendance rates. We probably achieve a higher attendance rate from our expatriate workforce than we do from the local workforce, but then that becomes a management issue for us. But, no, we get good quality people from there.

CHAIR: In relation to attendance rates: if they do not turn up, do they get paid?

Mr Rogers : No.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Senator LUDLAM: I have some questions that go specifically to the issue of the surveillance of Senator Hanson-Young when she was on the island. I think you were in the room when we were taking evidence from Transfield. Can I take it from your rebuttal to submission 62 that you do not concede—apart from two staff who were sent to watch, I understand, the car park on the night of 15 December 2013—that any other surveillance activities were undertaken.

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: I want to go through what did happen, and then we will work out what did not happen. When you were advised that Senator Hanson-Young was visiting the island, how long prior to the visit was that?

Mr Rogers : I am unaware specifically. It would have been within the week or two prior. I would be happy to try to research that and provide you a response on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: If you could. Presumably you get tipped off by the department that—

Mr Rogers : Typically, we would be informed by the Transfield operations manager on the island, who would have been informed by the department.

Senator LUDLAM: Can you go through the process of when you are advised that somebody reasonably high-profile—in this instance Senator Hanson-Young—is visiting the island? How does that filter through to the security team, and how do they prepare?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to describe that process, because he has been involved in a number of different VIP visits.

Mr McDonald : We would typically get an itinerary as a starting point. We would then participate in a number of planning meetings. They are normally attached to the daily operations meeting, so each of the service provider leads in the department will discuss the itinerary. Then each respective service provider would go and coordinate their part. So, for us, transport and escort are the key ones. So our briefings would then be to the people that we are going to allocate those tasks to.

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. Mr Rogers has undertaken to take on notice when Wilson Security was first notified that the visit was going to occur. Can you tell me when the visit was first brought up in one of your morning meetings or one of your security briefings?

Mr McDonald : I will confirm the exact date. I imagine that it is one to two weeks out from the visit as well.

Senator LUDLAM: Would it have been discussed more than once? Presumably, it would have.

Mr McDonald : Absolutely, it would have.

Senator LUDLAM: Your response to the file note that I have got in front of me that was provided to the committee last Friday, and your response to submitter No. 62, make it sound very much as though, on the night of the 15th, the decision was made by this supervisor to task two employees to go and watch the hotel and that there was no premeditation involved at all. That was where it began. It ended the following morning when Mr Gilbert became aware of it. Is that a fair characterisation?

Mr Rogers : That is a good characterisation.

Senator LUDLAM: So no premeditation, no preplanning of any form of off-site surveillance of any kind?

Mr Rogers : That would be absolutely outside of the scope of our contract. It would be completely inappropriate. If a responsible manager had heard of this activity being intended, he would have stopped it immediately, and it should never have happened.

CHAIR: Is it also outside the scope of your geography?

Mr Rogers : Of what?

CHAIR: Your geography. Are you contracted to provide any security services outside the RPCs?

Mr Rogers : The contract actually defines the area as the island of Nauru.

CHAIR: So someone would not think it is untoward to be sent to do this job?

Mr Rogers : I really could not speculate on—

CHAIR: Where do you roster your people? Do you roster them on the RPCs or do your roster them outside the Menen Hotel?

Mr Rogers : On the RPCs.

CHAIR: So someone has rostered people outside the normal scope of their duties, but they did not think it was unusual?

Mr Rogers : For the junior people who were involved, I think they were following what they believed to be legitimate instructions.

CHAIR: But it has never happened before. They were always rostered at the RPCs?

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: When was the codename 'Raven' assigned to Senator Hanson-Young?

Mr Rogers : I do not know. I can only surmise that the supervisor at that time selected a radio reference name for the senator at the point that he issued the unauthorised and completely inappropriate instruction.

Senator LUDLAM: Can you check for us, on notice, that it was assigned that evening and was not part of the briefing schedules in advance of the visit?

Mr Rogers : I certainly can. Maybe we will be able to assist with a response now.

Mr McDonald : Yes. I can confirm that we at no stage used the call sign 'Operation Raven' for any other part of the senator's visit.

Senator LUDLAM: It was just that one night?

Mr McDonald : The first I became aware of that codename was the morning of 16 December.

Senator LUDLAM: The first you became aware of it?

Mr McDonald : And I was involved in the previous planning, and I was on the island at the time.

Senator LUDLAM: Had you been involved in the security meetings and briefings prior to Senator Hanson-Young's arrival?

Mr McDonald : I was.

Senator LUDLAM: What is a 'ghosting technique'? What does that mean?

Mr Rogers : I cannot even begin to try to explain the rationale behind this. What I can say is that it was completely unauthorised. It was completely inappropriate.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand. We have that on the record. In the parlance of your trade, what is a 'ghosting technique'? I am not familiar with that. What does that mean?

Mr Rogers : It is not a term that I have ever used. I have seen it in the file notes.

Senator LUDLAM: What do you think it means?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to provide a response.

Mr McDonald : It is not a terminology we use. However, in my opinion it would be to be there without being seen.

Senator LUDLAM: 'Jason had informed his staff to perform a ghosting technique on the car throughout the shift.' So it is the car that is being surveilled?

Mr McDonald : That is correct. So they were placed in the car park at the Menen Hotel.

Senator LUDLAM: They sat in a car themselves?

Mr McDonald : That is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: And they sat there all night. How long is the shift?

Mr McDonald : Twelve hours.

Senator LUDLAM: Do you know when they went on station—at what time?

Mr Rogers : We do not. We are happy to check that and provide you with a response on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: If you could—when they went on and when they went off station. The instruction to these two individuals is: 'Sit in a car park, in a car, for 12 hours watching this other vehicle, and let headquarters know if the car is moved.' Is that right?

Mr Rogers : We do not know the exact instructions that were given to the individuals.

Senator LUDLAM: You have not sought to find that out? What was their tasking? I would have thought that would be quite important to have known.

Mr Rogers : There was absolutely no tasking from the company.

Senator LUDLAM: Well, no; there was, unless you are telling us that Mr Kahika was not a Wilson Security employee at the time.

Mr Rogers : No, he was an employee.

Senator LUDLAM: An employee of your company tasks two individuals to sit in a carpark for 12 hours to watch a vehicle.

Mr Rogers : Without any authority and without any reference to people who are empowered or enabled to make that decision. It was a complete error of judgement.

Senator LUDLAM: Did it happen on the night of the 16th and 17th while Senator Hanson-Young was also on the island?

Mr Rogers : All I have is what we are aware of from that file note, Senator.

Senator LUDLAM: Does the file note indicate whether that happened again?

Mr McDonald : I can confirm that he was stood down on the 16th and no such action occurred.

Senator LUDLAM: What does 'standing down' mean in the context of this sort of thing?

Mr McDonald : Suspended with pay whilst we collect the relevant information and take disciplinary action.

Senator LUDLAM: Does the file note initiate that action?

Mr McDonald : Yes. It was a note made by the supervisor at the time.

Senator LUDLAM: That was not submitted to the department, was it? I think we have already had that in evidence.

Mr Rogers : No, I believe it was included on the individual's personal file.

Senator LUDLAM: Does that get submitted to the department?

Mr Rogers : Not necessarily.

Senator LUDLAM: Does it get submitted to Transfield?

Mr Rogers : Not necessarily.

Senator LUDLAM: It does not leave Wilson, as far as you are aware?

Mr Rogers : At that stage it is an individual disciplinary document on a personal file.

Senator LUDLAM: About spying on a member of the Senate? You stood the employee, Mr Kahike, down; you have not taken disciplinary action against the junior employees, because you figure they were doing as they were told. What happens to the documentation, and this file note in particular, and who else is notified outside of Wilson Security?

Mr Rogers : At that stage it was treated as an internal disciplinary issue. I believe Transfield had been informed very shortly after Mr McDonald was informed. The actual outcome of the disciplinary matter was recorded internally.

Senator LUDLAM: You say it was very shortly after Monday the 16th that this document was drawn up.

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: And Transfield were notified. They took that on notice, and so we shall see if that is consistent. Do you subcontract any other security or surveillance functions to other entities on the island? Would any other surveillance activities be conducted by Wilson?

Mr Rogers : We do not conduct any surveillance activities at all.

Senator LUDLAM: Alright. Do you subcontract any of those activities out to third parties?

Mr Rogers : No, we do not.

Senator LUDLAM: Were there any wire taps, listening devices or other wires placed in Senator Hanson-Young's room or vehicle?

Mr Rogers : No, absolutely not.

Senator LUDLAM: Was there any pursuit or vehicle surveillance while Senator Hanson-Young was mobile on the island?

Mr Rogers : I will ask Brett to respond to that. I am unaware of any.

Mr McDonald : Possibly between the centres. There would have been vehicles operating between RPC 1, 2 and 3 during the visit.

Senator LUDLAM: Would that be normal practice?

Mr McDonald : That would be.

Senator LUDLAM: But not from home base to the RPCs?

Mr McDonald : I am not aware, Senator.

Senator LUDLAM: It would be a lot more practised if I was someone from home base to one of the processing centres?

Mr McDonald : To answer your question, it would be standard practice to follow people between the centres. I am not aware of surveillance from any other point to the centres.

Senator LUDLAM: Is that part of your procedures?

Mr McDonald : It would have been a part of planning the logistics, the transport and the escort of the senator.

Senator LUDLAM: What about from the centre back to home base to make sure that she left the site and returned to the hotel?

Mr Rogers : I think her departure from the site would have been recorded at the access control point, and so from that point—

Senator LUDLAM: She is handed off at the gate and is of no further concern to Wilson?

Mr Rogers : I was not there at the time, but our standard practice would be to see you to the vehicle and fare you well until your next visit.

Senator LUDLAM: Some pretty non-standard practice seems to have been applied at least in this instance. I am trying to establish what other departures from standard practice might have occurred during Senator Hanson-Young's visit. Can you confirm for us whether there was any other off-site surveillance of the vehicle on its way back to the hotel or from the hotel during the subsequent two days?

Mr Rogers : What I can confirm is that there was absolutely nothing in any of the planning—the itinerary, management or anything else—and we are unaware of any other—

Senator LUDLAM: But neither was this.

Mr Rogers : That is correct. As I have highlighted, it was unauthorised, it was inappropriate and it should not have happened.

Senator LUDLAM: Okay. Can you undertake to take on notice for us whether any of those other activities did or did not occur.

Mr Rogers : I am happy to take that on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: If it is just a straight-out confirmation that it did not, that will assist. For how long was the employee Mr Kahika stood down?

Mr Rogers : I am not sure exactly how long he was stood down from employment. He was stood down from his supervisory roles for, I think, up to a year.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that he was then reinstated.

Mr Rogers : He then applied for a supervisory role at a later point. Based on his performance, he was selected for the role.

Senator LUDLAM: Prior to the visit, during the security briefings, was Mr Gilbert approached by any employees to raise concerns about any of the matters or arrangements surrounding Senator Hanson-Young's visit?

Mr Rogers : I am unaware.

Mr McDonald : I am unaware, but we could make that inquiry.

Senator LUDLAM: What I am keen to know is whether after any of the directives given in the briefings—again, these are prior to the visit occurring, not the actions that were taken subsequently—any concerns were raised with Mr Gilbert or any other supervisors or senior staff about the protocols or the directions or directives that anybody was being given.

Mr Rogers : I can categorically state that we received no direction in this matter. We issued no direction to Mr Gilbert or Mr Kahika in this matter.

Senator LUDLAM: I am interested to know what directions Mr Gilbert might have given—or Mr Kahika, for that matter—in advance of the visit and whether any employees raised concerns prior to Senator Hanson-Young's arrival.

Mr Rogers : I am very happy to take that on notice.

CHAIR: Is it possible he was acting on someone else's instructions?

Mr Rogers : I find that very, very unlikely.

Mr McDonald : I can confirm that I had a conversation with him and he confirmed that he was acting on his own instructions.

Senator LUDLAM: This was Mr Kahika who said so. Mr Gilbert is not here to answer for himself. If he were, what I would ask him is: prior to Senator Hanson-Young's arrival on the island and subsequent to the briefings, including security briefings, preliminary to the visit, had any members of the security team or anybody else raised any concerns with him, Mr Gilbert, about any of the directions or instructions that had been given?

Mr Rogers : We can probably provide two parts to your answer. I am happy to undertake to contact Mr Gilbert, put that question to him and respond to you on notice. Also, Brett McDonald, who Mr Gilbert was reporting to, is right here and can answer whether he received any concerns or anything, if that would assist you.

Senator LUDLAM: It was a separate question, but yes, sure.

Mr McDonald : No, nobody raised any concerns with me in relation to the activities that were being planned for the senator's visit.

Senator LUDLAM: I would ask you, if you could, to put that question in those terms to Mr Gilbert. Are we able to have a copy of the brief of intended operations? Is that a single document that is prepared in advance of a high-profile visitor?

Mr Rogers : It is effectively an itinerary, and I believe we can provide that.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand why you might have to make some redactions to that, but if you could—so what has gone out to your security staff in those morning briefings, the itinerary and any instructions that might arise from the same. If you can provide that, I am happy if names are taken out if you would prefer. I think that has been your request on some of this evidence. But, apart from that, if you could provide that—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Positions.

Senator LUDLAM: Yes, positions would be appropriate, I guess—level of seniority.

Mr Rogers : Sure.

Senator LUDLAM: And who prepares the security briefs. Mr McDonald, is that part of your ambit?

Mr McDonald : I would have seen it, but I would not have prepared it myself.

Senator LUDLAM: Who attends those—how many people and who are they?

Mr McDonald : It is normally attended by the people who are responsible for playing a part in it. On this occasion—I will refresh my memory when we check it on notice—there would have been half a dozen.

Senator LUDLAM: In the aftermath, was there a reason why Senator Hanson-Young was not notified that that surveillance had occurred?

Mr Rogers : I guess a couple of reasons. To characterise it as surveillance, I think, is not quite correct.

Senator LUDLAM: 'Ghosting technique' sounds a little bit like surveillance.

Mr Rogers : There is no way that this company has conducted surveillance as part of—

Senator LUDLAM: 'I inquired with Jason as to what authority he had to conduct the surveillance', so let's not fool around with semantics; that is what it was.

Mr Rogers : It is not a matter of semantics.

Senator LUDLAM: I am reading your own file note. Your supervisor from ERT said, 'What authority did he have to conduct the surveillance?'

Mr Rogers : I understand what is in the file note. I was going to explain. Surveillance is an organised process as part of an overall intelligence process to gain information to inform decision making. This was absolutely categorically not on that scale at all. It was a misguided action by an unauthorised individual that should never have occurred.

Senator LUDLAM: The whistleblower who wrote submission 62, who seems to be very well placed—I do not know who it is—and well informed, said that Wilson Security organised a team from ERT to spy on her while she was on Nauru. This included following her around the island while she was outside of the OPCs and setting up an observation post to watch her room—it does not say her car; it says her room—at the Menen Hotel. The briefing was given by an ERT supervisor—that name has been redacted—in which he gave orders to spy on the senator. The evidence you are giving us today is in direct contradiction to nearly all of that.

Mr Rogers : That is absolutely correct, yes.

Senator LUDLAM: The briefing included her room number, vehicle registration and using the codename 'Raven' over the radio to make reference to her. So you are asserting that that is all just completely made up? You did not deny that 'Raven' was used; you were not sure where it originated. But is the rest of that just fabrication?

Mr Rogers : I am absolutely maintaining what I have described to you as Wilson Security did not authorise or instruct or direct this action to occur.

Senator LUDLAM: Who do you mean when you—

CHAIR: And the supervisor for the 12 hours that they observed a car outside the hotel, you paid them?

Mr Rogers : We stood the supervisor who made that—

CHAIR: You paid them for the work they undertook; you just did not know where they were.

Mr Rogers : I will take on notice whether we paid the supervisor.

CHAIR: You would have paid the two staff, who were there for 12 hours observing the hotel or the car.

Mr Rogers : That would have occurred, yes.

CHAIR: So it is not correct to say that you were not involved. You actually had your people on your payroll undertaking activities. I accept that you do not like the activities but they were your people. As the sun comes up every morning, if you are sitting for 12 hours looking at something then that is surveillance.

Mr Rogers : There was no reporting that came out of this. It did not inform any decision making. It was the rogue actions of a misaligned individual.

Senator LUDLAM: But your evidence does strikingly contrast with what submission 62 has put to the committee.

Mr Rogers : I do not know the motivation for the person who submitted submission 62 to make their claims. I do know it is an individual who, as a disaffected ex-employee—

Senator LUDLAM: Do you know who the submitter is?

Mr Rogers : Yes I know who it is.

Senator LUDLAM: Is it a disaffected ex-employee of Wilsons?

Mr Rogers : Yes, that is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: Were they on the security team?

Mr Rogers : Could you rephrase that question for me?

Senator LUDLAM: For example, were they a member of the ERT?

Mr Rogers : I am unaware. I am happy to take that on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: It sounds like you know who it is. Were they a member of your company providing security on Nauru?

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: Will you undertake to find out whether they were a member of the ERT? When you say 'disaffected', in what way were they disaffected?

Mr Rogers : I believe their employment was not renewed at a point where they rather felt it should have been.

Senator LUDLAM: Do you think maybe it was employment issues—I guess we are drifting into hypotheticals here. Do you dispute the evidence?

Mr Rogers : That is correct.

Senator LUDLAM: How long was the person in your employ?

Mr Rogers : Could I take that on notice? I am happy to provide a response. I just want to be precise.

Senator LUDLAM: That is okay. For how long had they been gone and not an employee?

Mr Rogers : They would have ceased their employment late January or early February this year.

Senator LUDLAM: The committee has not been made aware of who the author of submission 62 was and, presumably, they wanted to keep their identity confidential for a reason. Have you undertaken investigations or are you just using an educated guess?

Mr Rogers : No, the committee has communicated the name to us.

Senator LUDLAM: The committee has done that but it has not been published so I am going to leave it there. Presumably you would have taken these allegations very seriously because they go to a lot more than just asking two individuals to watch a car. What have you done to either validate or invalidate the balance of those allegations around following around the island and watching the room?

Mr Rogers : I think as Brett described to you, he has called Mr Kahika and discussed the activities of the instructions that he issued completely inappropriately on that occasion and that was the limit that of what occurred.

Senator LUDLAM: But for all we know, Mr Kahika might have had nothing to do with following Senator Hanson-Young around the island or any of these other allegations. It may well have had nothing to do with this individual.

Mr Rogers : I believe the submission described that as being a part of what Mr Kahika issued instructions to do.

Senator LUDLAM: It does not actually say that. I will leave it there.

Senator KIM CARR: I do appreciate the approach you have taken to the committee. I had the opportunity to actually check the Moss review. You relied on clause 24, referring to their security report, which says:

… indicated conclusively to the review that a particular contract service provider staff members had engaged in these activities.

That is, the allegations made in this intelligence report. But then in clause 28—this is the one I am particularly interested in—it says:

The review notes that has not obtained any information which substantiates the alleged misconduct in relation to Save the Children staff members.

When you read that, what was your response?

Mr Rogers : I accept that the allegations have never been substantiated.

Senator KIM CARR: But it says not 'any information'.

Mr Rogers : That is my response. I accept that Mr Moss never received evidence to substantiate those allegations.

Senator KIM CARR: What have you said to your intelligence officer who produced that report?

Mr Rogers : I have spoken to him specifically about the report on two occasions since it has surfaced. I think the report in itself is entirely suitable for the purpose for which it was made, which was to highlight the potential of a risk to the safety and security of the centre. The intention of the report and the recommendation in the report was to conduct a further investigation.

Senator KIM CARR: Not to sack everyone?

Mr Rogers : It was to conduct further investigations.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Could we please have any documents, emails or file notes in relation to the disciplinary action, the standing down and the reasons in relation to the incident referred to by Senator Ludlam?

Mr Rogers : Yes.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Mr McDonald and Mr Rogers. If you have taken—and I know you have—a few questions on notice, we would be seeking answers to those questions by the 24th if that is at all possible. Thank you very much for your evidence.

Proceedings suspended from 13:29 to 14:01