Senate debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Committees

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity Committee; Report

4:52 pm

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I had the pleasure of leading the delegation of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity to New Zealand and Vanuatu. The delegation was primarily to support the committee's ongoing inquiry into the integrity of Australia's border arrangements. The committee also used the delegation as an opportunity to understand integrity frameworks more broadly in the two countries, and how individual initiatives or aspects of those frameworks might be relevant for Australia. There are emerging challenges for Australia's anticorruption, law enforcement and border agencies in ensuring our border arrangements are protected from transnational organised crime, changes in information and communications technology that can increase corruption vulnerability, criminal activities which seek to hide within legitimate movements across borders, and the potential for corruption in biosecurity and visa processing.

Of particular interest to the delegation was looking into anticorruption measures used by border agencies in nearby jurisdictions with which Australia has a close association as partners in addressing transnational crime and corruption. This was of particular importance as the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity has reported that a number of investigations now involve international operations.

The delegation would like to thank the Parliament of Vanuatu as well as many government agencies for their welcome to their beautiful country and their openness to our discussions. We reviewed a number of anticorruption and integrity programs being undertaken in Vanuatu, many of which are directly supported or funded by the Australian government. The delegation was very pleased to see the significantly more sophisticated approach that many Vanuatu agencies are taking towards these measures to improve the integrity of a broad range of law enforcement, parliamentary and civic functions. The government of Vanuatu and its people are to be commended for the great steps being taken to strengthen the functions that underpin their democracy. Australia is honoured to work in partnership with our Pacific neighbours in their endeavours.

On behalf of the delegation, I wish to thank the government of New Zealand—our cousins across the Tasman. We met with a range of law enforcement, anticorruption and integrity-monitoring organisations. The delegation left with a greater understanding of how well Australia and New Zealand work together on these initiatives and how closely tied are our futures.

One of the important lessons the delegation learned was the need to remain vigilant and clear-eyed about corruption and integrity risks. It's often said the greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing people he didn't exist. The same can be said of corruption. The greatest corruption driver of all is to think that corruption risk doesn't exist. Australian integrity and anticorruption frameworks have been clear-eyed in identifying that risk to Australian borders do not start at borders but can also be driven by weaknesses in regional trading partners. This delegation report outlines the work that some of Australia's trading partners have been doing to minimise those risks with the funding and the support of the Australian government, and we commend these programs.

Lastly, I would also like to thank my fellow delegates Mr Conaghan, Mr Laming and Mr Zappia for participating in the delegation. I would also like to thank the committee secretariat for their extensive work in organising the delegation—in particular, Ms Kate Gauthier, who accompanied us as the delegation secretary. Their support, as always, was invaluable.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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