MEDIA RELEASE - Government proposes Integrity Testing
Friday 30th March, 2012
Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice Jason Clare today announced that the Federal Government will introduce legislation to conduct targeted integrity tests on Commonwealth officers suspected of corruption.
This legislation will build on the powers that the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity already has which include:
· Coercive powers to gather information through hearings and notices;
· Telecommunications interception and data access;
· Electronic surveillance;
· Controlled operations and assumed identities;
· Search warrants, and
· Scrutiny of financial transaction records.*
The CEO Jim Torr, of the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) stated today:
“There are already numerous intrusions into the life of an Australian Federal Police (AFP) employee; including meeting the very high bar of Secret Security clearances, participating in random and targeted drug and alcohol testing, regular financial disclosure, coercive interviews and other mandatory integrity measures.”
The Gillard Government has recently cut the AFP budget by 4% impacting on AFP operational capability. On that basis, the AFPA opposes diversion of limited funding.
Mr Torr said:
“The proposed funding for Integrity testing should be diverted to front line operational capability rather than yet another inward looking program.
The misdirected resources required to fund this initiative could be better used, for example, to enable the AFP to investigate the Western Sydney drug and handgun explosion, most of which have been illegally imported through the Government’s porous borders.”
Minister Clare has not outlined the safeguards that will be in place to protect AFP employees against potential misuse of this process by senior managers. He has also not limited such a controversial process to only employees subject to specific corruption allegations by the Australian Commissioner for Law Enforcement Integrity. Mr Clare has suggested that it can be used on a Police Officer who was disrespectful to a member of the public.
The AFPA claims that this is not a corruption matter but a service delivery issue best dealt with through the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s normal investigative powers.
Mr Torr stated:
“If this proposed Bill is to go forward the AFPA would be seeking that all public officials in high trust position be included such as politicians, judges, Heads of Commonwealth Government agencies and sections within those agencies, including the ADF and those responsible for allocating government contracts.”
Every single argument that is used by the Government to justify this intrusion applies equally to other trusted public figures; we have seen politicians, judges & Police Commissioners all succumb to greed and temptation, winding up in jail just as some corrupt police have.
The AFPA has concerns that whilst key recommendations made by the Parliamentary Joint Committee into Law Enforcement’s inquiry into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures to combat serious and organized crime (completed on 16 June 2011) remains largely ignored, that the Gillard Government is focusing on law enforcement officials instead of more tangible measures to combat serious and organized crime.
“Prime Minister Rudd, like Prime Minister Howard, took Australia’s national security, including organized crime, seriously. But this Prime Minister has cut the AFP budget by 4% and now wants to divert funds in order to subject our overworked AFP Federal Agents with yet another integrity measure.
The AFP employees are already subject to the highest integrity measures of any Australian Police Force and potentially throughout the world. The public expects the Gillard Government to appropriately resource the AFP to protect Australians from criminal attack, not to shrink the AFP budget. The Gillard Government needs to get its priorities right and focus on significant measures to combat serious and organized crime!
I have a far greater fear of one of our members being killed by an organised crime figure with an illegally imported handgun, than I do a member ‘failing to treat a member of the public with respect”. Mr Torr said.
- Media release, Integrity tests to be introduced for Federal law Enforcement Officers, 30 March 2012.
Chief Executive Officer
Australian federal Police Association