House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022


Law Enforcement Joint Committee; Report

12:56 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, I present the committee's report entitled Vaccinerelated fraud and security risks.

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

by leave—I present the final report of the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement's inquiry into COVID-19 Vaccine related fraud and security risks. The report builds on the committee's interim report for this inquiry, which was tabled in August 2021.

This inquiry was conducted in response to concerns that as part of the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of the vaccine rollout and the rollout of vaccine certificates that this may be open to individuals or organised crime gangs to perpetrate fraud against the Australian populous or to otherwise coerce individuals by means of corruption or crime. The interim report last year found that, due to the early, strong and coordinated action from law enforcement agencies across all jurisdictions, Australia, pleasingly, did not experience the anticipated levels of scam or fraud activity related to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. In particular, the government's decision to make the vaccine available for free in a timely manner to all Australians limited the ability of fraud or coercion to take place.

The interim report also highlighted concerns vaccination status fraud could manifest in the future as we move past the initial vaccination stage and as individuals sought to avoid, potentially, the consequences of not being vaccinated. So the final report contains the committee's considerations, particularly on this matter and its investigations as such.

I'm pleased report to the House that the committee has found that although there have been some instances—widely reported in the media—of fraud, these are extremely limited and the total amount of vaccination related fraud conducted has been extremely small.

I am further pleased to report that although Australia's vaccination registration system was tested during the rollout the existing integrity mechanisms were found to be fit for purpose and robust in protecting the health and welfare of Australians. They've held up extremely well. This success is not just due to those government service agencies who have rolled out these robust systems that have prevented fraud; it's also due to our law enforcement agencies, particularly Border Force and the AFP, who have done an outstanding job in being proactive in tackling any fraud related risks.

It's also through the great support of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the work of our medical institutions and all of our frontline doctors, nurses and pharmacists, who, every day, are making sure that the safety of the Australian public is front of mind and, in particular, that the consistency of the systems and preventing any fraud related activity is safeguarded at the frontline level. With that, I would like to thank very much the deputy chair, Dr Anne Aly, for her support. As part of the report, I'd like to thank all committee members, all witnesses and, of course, the secretariat for their outstanding work.