House debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021


Law Enforcement Committee; Report

4:16 pm

Photo of Craig KellyCraig Kelly (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, I present the committee's report entitled An Australian Standard for the training and use of privately contracted security and detection dogs.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

by leave—I thank my fellow committee member the member for Cowper for pushing this and bringing this inquiry to the committee's attention. My interest in it began many years ago, when I was standing in line at one of the nightclubs in the Sutherland Shire. A friend of mine who was standing with me was actually bitten by a rather large white husky dog that was supposedly a security dog but obviously hadn't had the adequate training. We spent most of that Saturday night, rather than getting up to mischief inside the nightclub, lined up in a queue at Sutherland Hospital for him to get many stitches in the back of his calf.

The intent of the inquiry was not to advocate for the introduction of a standard that would undermine or replace the existing standards of police or other government organisations for the use of security or detection dogs. The inquiry sought to understand the ways in which these were the base standard of the private security industry and might be enhanced to improve public confidence in these services. The committee considered a range of domestic and international standards and how a national standard might be structured and enforced. The committee acknowledges concerns regarding the private operation of explosive and drug detection dogs; however, it considers there is a need for government to assist the industry to improve existing standards and thus the safety of services.

The committee found that the lack of a national standard has resulted in the differing of minimum requirements being used by providers. Introduction of a national standard for privately operated canine detection and security services could facilitate a number of improvements. These include: increasing reliability, safety and consistency of services; enhancing Australia's competitive advantage in the international market; and potential streamlining insurance processes.

At the time of the inquiry's establishment, the committee was not aware of any plans to develop a national standard for private security and detection dogs. Since the inquiry began, Standards Australia has commenced work to develop a voluntary standard. The committee welcomes this development and looks forward to seeing the draft standard when it becomes available.

The committee is of the view that law enforcement should be well represented on the technical advisory committee responsible for the development of the standard. This will ensure that only the relevant methodology is incorporated and that controls in the use of methodology are robust. The committee is pleased that the AFP is lending its expertise to the development of the proposed private sector standard. The AFP does not privately contract these types of services itself; it maintains an in-house capability. The committee is assured it has a robust integrity framework in place.

The committee has made two recommendations in its report. The committee heard the concerns of the conservation sector and agrees that the proposed standards should carve out conservation detection dogs from its content. The proposed standards should also clearly define the term 'biosecurity' to mitigate the private security standard inadvertently capturing the work of conservation dogs.

The committee thanks all those who contributed to this inquiry and encourages stakeholders to provide feedback on the draft standard when it is available for public consultation in 2020. I'd also like to note that I was very surprised and pleased to learn how productive these dogs are. When you hear about what is being done with these detection dogs, you see how effective and efficient they are and how they add enormous value to our economy. I thank all those people involved in the industry. I thank them for their support in the inquiry. I'd also like to thank all the other committee members, our law enforcement committee, and the deputy chair, the member for Cowan. I'd like to again thank her for her cooperation. I think it's a good indication of how this parliament can work with both sides of politics working together for the betterment of the nation. I thank the House.

4:20 pm

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I was very pleased to bring the issue of an Australian standard for the training and use of privately contracted security and detection dogs to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement. The issue was brought to me by Mick Goodwin, a former superintendent of the New South Wales Police Dog Squad and now operator of Dog Force Australia, in late 2019. Alarmingly, at that time, despite previous attempts, there was no agreed national standard for private security canine detection service providers regarding the minimum levels of training, performance, welfare, assessment, operation and administration to carry out the role effectively and with integrity. Additionally, there were no standards for security or protection, meaning canine providers were able to operate without being required to meet any competency based standards.

I would like to thank the committee and, in particular, the chair, the member for Hughes, and the deputy chair, the member for Cowan, for their bipartisan approach and efforts. In addition, I thank the numerous agencies who gave evidence over a number of days.

Along with the recommendations made in this report, it is extremely pleasing to see that Standards Australia have commenced work to develop a voluntary national standard for private sector patrol and detection dogs. Once completed and implemented, this will provide certainty to consumers of a minimum standard of quality of work; certainty as to the proper and humane treatment and training of the dogs; and it will bring Australia in line with other leading countries.

The committee welcomes Standards Australia's decision to develop a voluntary national standard, and I believe that it's this committee's work that has been instrumental in this step being taken. This report provides a clear, concise direction for a national standard, and I commend it to the House.