Chapter 4

Enhancing border integrity

An enduring lesson is that corruption risk will follow opportunity for illicit profit. Policy designers, and those responsible for governance of high-risk operating environments, must expect this situation to be the case, and plan accordingly.1
This chapter further examines the current capabilities of border and law enforcement agencies to address corruption, and examines how these may be strengthened.

ACLEI jurisdiction and capabilities

The jurisdiction of the Australian Law Enforcement Integrity Commission (ACLEI) has expanded since its establishment in 2006 to cover an increasingly wide range of law enforcement bodies and functions. Indeed, its jurisdiction has extended to agencies such as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), now the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs), which were previously not seen as traditional law enforcement bodies. This expansion of jurisdiction has occurred as:
…law enforcement models have developed and diversified—including closer cooperation and information sharing between agencies that are primarily law enforcement in nature, and other government partners—opportunities for corrupt conduct have extended to a broader class of government employee…2
Mr Michael Griffin AM, former Integrity Commissioner, highlighted this shift in 2019, in a hearing of the committee:
The title, of course, is the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, but 'law enforcement' is an elastic term that changes as the years go by. It has transitioned from being just the Federal Police and the Crime Commission, which, if you like, are at the pointier end of law enforcement, to now going right across to agriculture, the Department of Home Affairs and Immigration folks, so we've got a very broad remit at the moment.3
A recent audit conducted by the Australian National Audit Office raised concerns that while the numbers of investigations by ACLEI has grown significantly in recent years in line with the expansion of the agency's jurisdiction, the number of completed investigations has not kept pace with the growth in the number of investigations commenced.4
This issue has been investigated by this committee in its regular examinations of ACLEI's annual reports. The former Integrity Commissioner, Mr Michael Griffin AM, told the committee that there had been a large inflow of material associated with the expansion of ACLEI's jurisdiction from that first increase in staff under its jurisdiction, which is now reducing in volume. In its examination report, the committee noted the work done by ACLEI to bring the number of notifications in-hand down to a more manageable level, by developing a notification triage tool and developing greater capability in Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006 agencies to conduct their own investigations into lower‑risk corruption issues.5
In its 2017–18 annual report, ACLEI acknowledged the potential impact of both the inclusion in its jurisdiction of an additional 1000 high corruption risk roles6 and the challenges of investigations into visa fraud, which may involve international operations.7 In 2017–18, ACLEI established a joint Visa Integrity Taskforce (VITF) examining visa fraud. Funding of $3.85 million over two years was provided for the VITF from the Confiscated Assets Account under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The VITF is intended to assure the integrity of Australia’s visa system by investigating allegations and intelligence about internal collusion relating to visa fraud. In its 2017–18 annual report, ACLEI noted the VITF 'had considerable success in investigating alleged corrupt activity in visa processing, mostly involving off-shore locally engaged staff'.8
ACLEI has also expanded its operations over time, and established a presence in Sydney in June 2014 within Australian Federal Police (AFP) premises, 'to give a focus to investigating corruption-enabled border crime'.9 Subsequently, in the 2018–19 Budget, the Australian Government committed $2.5 million in funding over three years to establish and maintain an ACLEI operations facility in Sydney.10 In the 2018–19 Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner , ACLEI reported that the Sydney office was opened in December 2018 with investigations now generally being allocated according to geographic region, between the Sydney and Canberra offices. ACLEI noted the Sydney office 'has enhanced ACLEI’s operational systems and strengthened operational security'.11
In the 2020–21 Budget, the government announced that ACLEI's jurisdiction will be further expanded to include the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).12 These are not agencies with specific border functions and the increased ACLEI workload has been met with a commensurate increase in funding. Furthermore, it is expected that with the establishment of the Commonwealth Integrity Commission, discussed later in this chapter and previously in chapter three, the entirely of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment would be brought under ACLEI's jurisdiction.13

Open Government Action Plan

In the mid-term self-assessment report on the Open Government National Action Plan 2016–2018, the government indicated that it would strengthen its ability to prevent, detect and respond to bribery and corruption through, among other measures:
responding to the recommendations of this committee's 2016 inquiry into the jurisdiction of ACLEI; and
reviewing the jurisdiction and capabilities of ACLEI and the AFP-managed Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre.14
The subsequent Open Government National Action Plan 2018–2020, released in September 2018, does not refer to or include either of these specific actions; however, it does commit the government to:
…analysing the coverage afforded at present by relevant government departments, agencies and other bodies and identifying any significant gaps in their jurisdiction, functions and resources.15
The third Open Government National Action Plan 2020–2022 is, at time of writing, undertaking the final round of consultations, including the draft commitment to 'improve awareness within Commonwealth entities, and more broadly, of fraud risks associated with government responses to a crisis situation'.16

Committee view

Given the expansion of the number of high corruption risk roles within ACLEI's jurisdiction following the creation of Home Affairs, the committee considers it important for the government to ensure that ACLEI and partner agencies continue to have appropriate resourcing to effectively tackle serious and systemic corruption. This is particularly important given the announcement of the inclusion of the ATO, ASIC, the ACCC and APRA within ACLEI's jurisdiction. The committee notes that, as outlined earlier in this chapter and noted in the committees annual examinations of ACLEI, while ACLEI was able over time to develop tools to more efficiently managed the increased workload, nevertheless past expansions of ACLEI's jurisdiction resulted in some delays to investigations.
Key agencies responsible for tackling corruption at the borders, in particular ACLEI and the AFP, have recognised and devoted resources to serious crime and related corruption border law enforcement operations. The committee agrees with ACLEI and the AFP that the management of corruption at the border requires a more tailored approach, in line with the government's overall multi-agency approach, which recognises the unique requirements of border environments.
The committee acknowledges the open-ended National Strategy to fight Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime, released in 2018. However this strategy does not appear to have fully used the opportunity for the government, and in particular the Home Affairs Portfolio agencies, to develop in consultation with ACLEI a targeted serious crime and corruption strategy focused on the integrity of Australia's border arrangements, and incorporating strategies to address specific issues arising at marine or airport and related facilities.

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that Australian Government law enforcement agencies develop, in consultation with ACLEI, a coordinated serious crime and corruption strategy with a particular focus on strategies and actions to enhance integrity and to identify, prevent and prosecute corruption at Australia's borders.

Intelligence-led corruption detection – National Criminal Intelligence System

During the course of the inquiry, border and law enforcement agencies have consistently argued that a more effective use of intelligence in maintaining robust integrity systems is essential. Significant limitations on, in particular, the sharing of intelligence between agencies have been identified as hampering anti-corruption work in the border environment.
A range of proposals which could go some way to address a number of the corruption vulnerabilities outlined in Chapter 3 have been made throughout this inquiry. At the same time, the merger of most border-related functions into the Home Affairs portfolio provides opportunities for these proposals to be considered and implemented.
Restrictions on sharing intelligence, and the limited allowable usage of intelligence, have impacted on the ability to implement consistent and reliable integrity measures across border and law enforcement agencies. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has been working with the Attorney General's Department to 'develop criminal intelligence sharing options for administrative decision-making for the government's consideration'.17
The ACIC has developed the National Criminal Intelligence System (NCIS), which it believes could be used to facilitate:
…the efficient use of criminal intelligence for a range of administrative decisions, including background checking and continuous monitoring of criminal histories for people working in positions of trust, such as Commonwealth security clearance holders and ASIC and MSIC holders.18
The government announced funding for the full implementation of the NCIS in the 2018–19 Budget, committing $59.1 million over four years to a joint Commonwealth-states build of the NCIS. The NCIS will provide a national, unified picture of criminal activity to better enable law enforcement and intelligence agencies to combat criminal and national security threats.19

Committee view

The committee commends the ACIC for its work in successfully developing and piloting the NCIS. The committee considers that this development will greatly enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies nationally to access and use relevant and timely information in their investigations. The committee notes that evidence regarding this issue is now three years old, however that there may still be legislative impediments to fully utilising the benefits of the NCIS across law enforcement agencies, and considers that if they remain these impediments must be addressed.

Mechanisms for addressing corruption vulnerabilities in agencies and shared work environments

The agencies responsible for the regulation and management of Australia's borders have undergone significant change in recent years. This, while presenting integrity challenges, has also provided opportunities to better identify integrity risks, and work with relevant oversight agencies (in particular ACLEI) to manage those risks appropriately.
At present, individual agencies with border control and law enforcement responsibilities develop internal integrity frameworks commensurate with the relevant agency's corruption risk profile. This risk profile is informed by a Fraud and Corruption Risk Assessment undertaken every two years, with assistance from ACLEI.20 This approach has seen the development of different integrity models for agencies working in close quarters at the border.21
Public sector regulatory agencies also share working environments with private sector entities delivering services in and around ports, which can present integrity challenges for the regulatory agencies.

Agency level

In 2014, the Attorney-General announced a review of personnel security policy under the government's Protective Security Policy Framework, in response to 'risks posed by "insider threats" such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) Manning'.22 The changes required all government agencies to:
have policies and procedures to assess and manage the ongoing suitability for employment of their personnel;
share information that may impact on an individual's ongoing suitability to hold an Australian government security clearance; and
have separation policies and procedures for departing clearance holders, which includes a requirement to inform vetting agencies when a clearance holder leaves agency employment or contract engagement and advise vetting agencies of any security concerns.23
As mentioned in chapter 3, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit of the effectiveness of the Australian government's personnel security arrangements for mitigating insider threats found that, while Home Affairs had in place personnel security plans, policies and procedures, there were inadequate controls and quality assurance in place to ensure that all personnel held the appropriate clearances. The audit also found that Home Affairs did not conduct annual health checks of security clearance holders and their managers.24
The ANAO recommended that to remedy these insufficiencies, a quality assurance mechanism should be put in place and any outstanding clearance processes for existing Home Affairs staff be commenced. In addition, the ANAO recommended that Home Affairs implement the Protective Security Policy Framework requirement to undertake an annual health check of security clearance holders and their managers.25 In response, Home Affairs agreed that the recommendations 'appear to be an accurate reflection regarding areas for improvement in Home Affairs'.26

Shared working environments and cross-agency corruption prevention

According to the Integrity Commissioner, the integrity frameworks in place for Australian government agencies operating at Australia's borders:
…can be considered by world standards to be robust and innovative, with some variation between agencies in expertise and resources. Such variation is not necessarily unexpected or inappropriate, and reflects perceptions of risk, stage of development, judgements related to competition for resources, role specialisation, and differing ability to leverage economies of scale and in-house expertise.27
However, ACLEI also noted that, despite operating in shared working environments, most agencies responsible for border operations have developed corruption control plans with an internal, individual agencyspecific focus.28 The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has noted that '[s]ystems in which individual offices, departments or agencies operate in isolation from one another tend to be more susceptible to corruption'.29
To address the risks arising from agencies operating in isolation, the Integrity Commissioner advised:
…there has to be a holistic overview of not accepting the risks that are not within your control but working with the people who may be able to control those risks. So in a shared environment, one must take a holistic approach to the risks that face that environment and then work as, for example, the Home Affairs model seems to be addressing, in my view, accurately.30
ACLEI also argued that it may be preferable to develop local arrangements and/or cross-agency arrangements that fit with the specific characteristics and needs of the environment and recognise the inter-related risks faced by government law enforcement agencies.31
Further, ACLEI suggested that in shared working environments there should be 'interagency consultation about risk management plans moving to more integrated function-based or place-based risk assessments and treatment strategies – including for fraud and corruption control…characterised by interagency accountability for controls'.32 ACLEI highlighted that such an approach 'is supported by discussions with members of ACLEI's Fraud Control Experts Panel, a sub-group of the ACLEI Community of Practice for Corruption Prevention'.33

Creation of the Ministry of Home Affairs

The Ministry of Home Affairs was established on 20 December 2017. The portfolio includes:
Home Affairs, which comprises the former DIBP and functions brought from the Attorney-General's Department, the Office of Transport Security, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Social Services;
Australian Border Force (Border Force);
AFP; and
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
The co-location of agencies within the Home Affairs portfolio may enable greater collaboration between agencies and the opportunity to both share resources and develop common policies and procedures where appropriate. The Secretary of Home Affairs stated that:
With our colleagues in the Home Affairs portfolio agencies, the department will continue to build a portfolio which both respects the independence and traditions of the portfolio agencies, while also harnessing, in a way that has been hitherto impossible, the collective power and strength of the new national architecture of domestic security and law enforcement.34
Throughout the course of this inquiry, the committee received evidence that the opportunities to enhance and align integrity processes are being realised as the different arms of Home Affairs become more integrated. For example, Border Force indicated that it is adopting and using systems that are also in use in other parts of the portfolio and/or by agencies operating at Australia's borders:
We're looking at building systems around electronic lodgement of information, and we're looking in the longer term to try to align our processes with other agencies, for example fit and proper tests and all those sorts of things. Similar schemes are also arranged through the now aviation and maritime security division within the department that does the ASIC and MSIC processes for aviation and maritime security cards, and also with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. They also have approved activity arrangements for people who operate in their environment. A lot of the questions we ask are similar, and what we're trying to do is get some sort of alignment across government so we can make it simpler for industry to provide information once. Then we can use it for multiple purposes.35
The Integrity Commissioner has indicated that Home Affairs 'is very close to approaching the level of maturity of the Federal Police in understanding integrity and how the culture should be run'.36

Committee view

The committee has heard considerable evidence in relation to the integrity challenges facing agencies at Australia's borders. Inconsistencies in approach between agencies, and between government and private sector entities, create corruption vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals. The committee has heard that greater consistency in approach could be achieved by:
ensuring that the jurisdiction of ACLEI covers all agencies with law enforcement responsibilities at Australia's borders;
developing and maintaining a robust integrity framework at an agency level;
ensuring that within a robust integrity framework, local planning and variations are enabled to account for specific integrity vulnerabilities;
site-specific integrity plans and procedures are developed in consultation with partner and co-located agencies; and
mandatory corruption reporting for all entities involved in border operations.
The committee believes that such actions would reduce opportunities for corrupt conduct to remain undetected, and serve as a corruption deterrent.
In particular, and in line with Home Affairs' own views on the desirability of consistent and robust integrity approaches across the public sector, agencies working in close quarters at the nation's air and sea ports should adopt a congruent integrity approach in shared working environments, to ensure that in the high risk border environment, vulnerabilities that can arise through inconsistent approaches are minimised.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Department of Home Affairs portfolio agencies and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment work together to ensure a consistent approach to the development and implementation of integrity and anti-corruption frameworks. In addition, that these agencies work together to develop agreed site-specific integrity and anti-corruption plans and procedures that take into account site-specific corruption vulnerabilities whilst aligning with the broader integrity and anti-corruption framework.


As outlined in chapter 2, border regulatory and law enforcement agencies also work in close quarters with private sector service providers at Australian air and sea ports. A particular concern raised in evidence to this inquiry is in relation to Aviation Security Identification Cards (ASICs) and Maritime Security Identification Cards (MSICs).
During the course of this inquiry, the committee received evidence expressing a wide range of concerns with the administration and eligibility provisions of the ASICs and MSICs schemes.37 However, also during the course of this inquiry, the schemes have been significantly revised, and in ways that address many of these concerns. Most notably with the establishment of Home Affairs, the management of the schemes was given to a law enforcement agency when it was moved from the Office of Transport Security in the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to the Aviation and Maritime Security Division of Home Affairs.38
Additional concern was expressed by the ACIC in its appearance before the committee:
The unease that we feel at having 62 issuing bodies for ASIC and MSIC cards is similar to, as we said before, our unease about the level of scrutiny applied to migration agents, as well as brokers, who have access to the background criminal history-checking regime across all of the states and territories. I won't speak for OTS, but I understand their preference is to move to a single-issuing body, and we would support that.39
A review of Home Affairs publicly available information shows that the number of ASIC and MSIC issuing bodies has since been reduced to under 40.40
The most serious concern raised by submitters and witnesses was the eligibility criteria for the cards. The ACIC told the committee that a review conducted in December 2019 found that 227 ASIC or MSIC holders were listed on the ACIC's National Criminal Target List or were members or associates of outlaw motorcycle gangs. Mr Phelan, CEO of the ACIC told the committee:
The main issue that I put on record then was that those people who had those cards were passing the current tests that exist to obtain those cards. They were not subject to criminal intelligence checking, which was the foundation of our submission to that committee. Of course, some people may not have been convicted of offences but certainly there's enough information to suggest beyond the balance of probabilities that they were involved in criminal activity.41
During the course of this inquiry, the Australian Government has developed legislation to amend the eligibility criteria for ASICs and MSICs, the Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) the bill 2016, which was introduced into the House of Representatives during the 44th Parliament. However it did not progress and lapsed on dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives in May 2016.42 The Australian Government then introduced a similar bill into the 45th Parliament, which was also left unpassed by the dissolution of that Parliament.43
The Australian Government subsequently introduced the Transport Security Amendment (Serious Crime) Bill 2019 (the 2019 bill) to the 46th, current, Parliament on 23 October 2019. In introducing the 2019 bill, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP stated:
The ASIC and MSIC schemes are essential in ensuring security within Australia's transport network…To attain an ASIC or MSIC card, a background check is required. However, at present, the background check…does not consider whether the person has a history of involvement in serious crime. This leaves our airports and seaports vulnerable to exploitation by serious criminals. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has identified that almost 300 ASIC or MSIC card holders have known criminal links to organised motorcycle gangs and other serious and organised crime groups on the ACIC's National Criminal Target List.44
The 2019 bill was subject to an inquiry by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee (Legislation Committee). The ACIC advised the Legislation Committee that the 2019 bill should be strengthened to include criminal intelligence, because the usual criminal background checks for eligibility do not exclude people who are known to be involved in serious and organised crime but who have not been convicted of any offence, such as those who 'transport cash, pick up drugs, facilitate meetings, provide security at meetings, operate as lookouts at the ports and airports and facilitate things like baggage handling and cargo, even to the extent that they look and see which ones have law enforcement interest.'45
The Legislation Committee recommended the 2019 bill be strengthened to 'incorporate a criminal intelligence assessment in the background check process for the ASIC and MSIC schemes'.46 Subsequently, an amended bill with this provision has passed the House of Representatives and, at the time of writing, remains to be considered by the Senate.47
A further inconsistency in relation to the issue of ASICs and MSICs was raised by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF). They argue that focusing on MSICs and domestic maritime industry security vetting is insufficient in a context where the current regulatory environment allows foreign seafarers with Maritime Crew Visas (MCVs) to work in domestic shipping, without having to undergo the more rigorous checks required of MSIC holders.48
The MUA and ITF joint submission states that in issuing MCVs, there are 'no face to photo checks and the process is very fast'. By contrast, MSICs can take up to three months to process.49 The Home Affairs website shows that, as at 14 October 2020, the processing time for MCVs was one day for 75 per cent of applications, and less than nine days for 90 per cent of applications.50
While the issue of MCVs has not been raised in other evidence to this inquiry, it has been considered in the context of an inquiry into proposed legislation to amend the criteria for applying for ASICs and MSICs.51
The MUA and ITF submission recommends the introduction of two categories of MCV:
(i) a transit visa for international seafarers entering Australia on a continuing international voyage (the purpose of the current MCV); and
(ii) a more rigorous maritime crew visa for international seafarers engaged on ships authorised under the Temporary License (TL) to undertake coastal voyages made under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012, that is consistent with the national security standards for obtaining the Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) and which contains all the features of a 457 visa such as labour market testing, payment of market rates and supported by the Specification of Income Threshold and Annual Earnings made under the Migration Regulations 1994.52
Representatives of workers have made allegations that MSIC and ASICs can be used by employers as a weapon against unions and their members. For example, an industrial dispute arose at the Victorian International Container Terminal in November 2017 after a casual port worker and union member was denied access to secure areas of the port after failing to secure a MSIC. The report indicated that the worker had twice appealed the decision not to issue a MSIC, both of which had been unsuccessful.53

Committee view

The committee has heard considerable evidence about the potential for ASIC and MSIC schemes to be better used to prevent people with links to serious and organised crime from working in secure sea and airport locations.
The committee has also reviewed the evidence and recommendations emanating from earlier inquiries into issues relating to ASICs and or MSICs which have pointed to the gaps and deficiencies in the current system, and the prudence of using this existing security measure to undertake more rigorous screening to exclude people with serious criminal convictions and associations from working in secure parts of Australian air and sea ports.
The committee notes the Australian Government's recent reforms that have been implemented, but notes that a bill intended to tighten ASIC and MSIC requirements has not been passed yet, despite overwhelming evidence to support such changes. The committee acknowledges these issues have been the subject of a Senate inquiry, which recommended the changes be implemented, particularly around tightening eligibility criteria.
The committee also acknowledges the concerns raised by some stakeholders in relation to the inconsistencies between MSICs and Maritime Crew Visas where the MCVs enable foreign workers access to sensitive port areas without the same level of security vetting. The committee agrees that this may warrant attention, but as it was not an issue explored in depth during the course of the inquiry, the committee leaves it to the government to resolve how best to address it.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the Australian Government review the overall administration of the ASIC and MSIC schemes to consider either a single issuing authority or a significantly reduced number of issuing bodies.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends a central register of ASICs and MSICs be established that is updated on a regular or real-time basis to reflect, at a minimum:
relevant convictions;
cessation of employment; and
individuals holding multiple cards.

Police access at ports and along the supply chain

As outlined in chapter 3, the AFP expressed concern at the limitations they faced in accessing and policing privately owned or operated sites within and surrounding air and sea ports.
The AFP has indicated that its approach in relation to the difficulties it has experienced with lack of access to secure areas of sea ports (privately operated) is through:
…having strong relationships with industry…whereby they trust us and, therefore, pass information on. So, for us, the investment in those relationships is critical. Part of the strong work the Waterfront task force does particularly is in working with those people to build relationships to ensure information flows are solid. It's a difficult area for us to infiltrate, but there have been some fairly successful outcomes in the recent past.54
The AFP also makes use of its relationships with other agencies:
That's where the relationship with other government agencies is important. There are quarantine officers and Border Force officers that also operate in those environments. We have strong working relationships across the Commonwealth sector and also with the states and territories.55
The AFP suggested that mandatory corruption reporting could be extended not just to all Commonwealth agencies, but also to all border entities—that is, 'anyone involved in the process of the distribution of goods across the border'.56

Committee view

It is of some concern that serious and organised crime groups are able to continue to operate at ports due to inconsistencies between the access and powers of law enforcement agencies operating in publicly or privately owned or managed locations. Ports, as key gateways and known points of entry for illicit movements of people and goods, should be policed according to the high risk they pose, both in terms of criminal and other serious crime, including terrorism.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Australian Government assess the capability of law enforcement agencies to appropriately and proportionately exercise powers to undertake their roles in preventing, disrupting and investigating criminal activity at Australia's ports and related facilities in the supply chain and consider how best to mitigate existing barriers to effective law enforcement at ports and along the supply chain.

Research: Corruption and serious or organised crime

As the jurisdiction of ACLEI has expanded to include more agencies and functions relating to border operations, so too has the evidence of connections between serious or organised crime and corruption at Australia's borders. However, to date there has been very little research undertaken in Australia into the linkages between corruption and serious or organised crime.57
The growing body of evidence arising from ACLEI investigations suggests that further and more systematic research into the role of corruption in facilitating and enabling serious or organised crime in Australia is warranted. Some research suggests that the implementation of regulatory frameworks to impede organised crime activity may motivate organised crime groups to establish 'corrupt relationships with public officials in order to obtain information that minimises the risk of detection and prosecution'.58
There have been calls for the Australian Government to develop a single, overarching strategy to address corruption.59 It also appears that specific actions to address corruption have not been included in the government's published planning and strategic responses to serious or organised crime, despite the acknowledgement in these documents of the central role of corruption in enabling serious or organised crime:
Criminal networks will continue to seek out individuals within law enforcement and other public sector agencies and industry for the purpose of infiltration, corruption or facilitation, to further their criminal activities.60

Committee view

Evidence indicates that there is a heightened corruption vulnerability associated with serious or organised crime in border-management and related environments, a vulnerability which is accentuated by high and increasing work volumes, a mix of private and public sector agencies working in close quarters, and high-value returns for criminal enterprises.
The committee welcomes the government's announcement of the planned establishment of the Commonwealth Integrity Commission and the release of the exposure draft of establishing legislation. The committee considers that the establishment of this new agency is an opportune time to conduct research into corruption at Australia's borders and within agencies with responsibilities at Australia's border, particularly within shared environments, with a view to identifying and analysing current and future corruption risks. The outcomes of this research should then provide the basis for the development and implementation of the Commonwealth's anti-corruption measures.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensures there is a program of ongoing research on corruption activities at Australia's borders and within agencies operating at the border. This will assist to identify corruption risks and better inform anti-corruption measures that can be updated to meet the constantly evolving risk environment.
Senator Paul Scarr

  • 1
    Mr Phillip Moss, Integrity Commissioner, Australian Law Enforcement Integrity Commission (ACLEI), Investigation Report: Operation Heritage – a joint investigation of alleged corrupt conduct among officers of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service at Sydney International Airport (Interim Report), Report 02/2013, June 2013, p. 10.
  • 2
    ACLEI, Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Australian Border Force Bill 2015 and the Customs and Other Legislation Amendment (Australian Border Force) Bill 2015, March 2015, p. 7.
  • 3
    Mr Michael Griffin AM, Integrity Commissioner, ACLEI, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2019, p. 4. Mr Griffin was the Integrity Commissioner at the time of submissions and hearings for this inquiry. Mr Griffin has subsequently retired as of 7 February 2020.
  • 4
    Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), Auditor-General Report No. 4 2018–19, Operational efficiency of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, 28 August 2018, p. 8.
  • 5
    Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, Examination of the Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner 201718, pp. 15, 18.
  • 6
    ACLEI, Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner 2017–18, October 2018, p. 25.
  • 7
    ACLEI, Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner 2017–18, October 2018, p. 27.
  • 8
    ACLEI, Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner 2018–19, October 2018, p. 26.
  • 9
    ACLEI, Submission 2, p. 9.
  • 10
    Commonwealth of Australia, Budget Measures: Budget Paper No. 2, 2018–19, 8 May 2018, p. 75.
  • 11
    ACLEI, Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner 2018–19, p. 13.
  • 12
    Commonwealth of Australia, Portfolio Budget Statements 202021: Budget Related Paper No. 1.2: Attorney-General’s Portfolio, p. 101.
  • 13
    Attorney-General’s Department, Commonwealth Integrity Commission: Fact Sheet, November 2020.
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
    Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Open Government Partnership Australia: Phase 2c - Final Public Consultation on draft Commitments for Australia's Third National Action Plan, (accessed 27 October 2020).
  • 17
    Mr Paul Williams, Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 8.
  • 18
    Mr Paul Williams, ACIC, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 9.
  • 19
    ACIC, National Criminal Intelligence System, (accessed 29 October 2020).
  • 20
    ACLEI, Submission 2, p. 8.
  • 21
    ACLEI, Submission 10, p. 3.
  • 22
    Hon George B MP, Attorney-General, quoted in Allie Coyne, 'Brandis boosts vetting of APS staff to prevent insider threats', IT News, 2 September 2014, (accessed 4 January 2018).
  • 23
    Attorney-General's Department, Australian Government Personnel Security Core Policy, (accessed 17 May 2018).
  • 24
    ANAO, ANAO Report No.38 of 2017–18: Mitigating insider threats through personnel security, 1 May 2018, p. 9.
  • 25
    ANAO, Mitigating insider threats through personnel security, p. 11.
  • 26
    Home Affairs, Mitigating insider threats through personnel security, Appendix A, p. 80.
  • 27
    ACLEI, Submission 2, p. 9.
  • 28
    ACLEI, Submission 10, p. 2.
  • 29
    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Global Programme Against Corruption: United Nations Anti-Corruption Toolkit, 3rd Edition, Vienna, September 2014, p. 18.
  • 30
    Mr Michael Griffin AM, ACLEI, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 72.
  • 31
    ACLEI, Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner 2015–16, p. 22.
  • 32
    ACLEI, Submission 10, p. 2.
  • 33
    ACLEI, Submission 10, p. 2.
  • 34
    Mr Michael Pezzullo, Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, Committee Hansard, 21 May 2018, p. 4.
  • 35
    Mr John Gibbon, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Trade and Customs, Estimates Hansard, 22 May 2018, p. 129.
  • 36
    Mr Michael Griffin AM, ACLEI, Estimates Hansard, 10 May 2018, p. 5.
  • 37
    See for example, evidence provided by the AFP, ACIC, AusCheck and Home Affairs, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017.
  • 38
    Home Affairs, Our functions: Transport Security, (accessed 1 November 2020).
  • 39
    Mr Paul Williams, Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer, ACIC, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 11.
  • 40
    Home Affairs, Our functions: Transport Security, (accessed 1 November 2020).
  • 41
    Mr Michael Phelan, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Committee Hansard, 11 September 2020, p. 14.
  • 42
    Parliament of Australia, Bills and Legislation, Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016, Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5689 (accessed 12 October 2020).
  • 43
    Mary Anne Neilsen, Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016, Bills Digest No. 64, 2019–20, Parliamentary Library, Canberra 2019.
  • 44
    The Hon. Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, House of Representatives Hansard, 23 October 2019, p. 5087.
  • 45
    Mr Michael Phelan, ACIC, Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee Hansard, 26 February 2020, p. 25.
  • 46
    Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, Inquiry into the Transport Security Amendment (Serious Crime) Bill 2019 [Provisions], Report, p. 21.
  • 47
    Parliament of Australia, Bills and Legislation, Transport Security Amendment (Serious Crime) Bill 2020 /Result?bId=r6440 (accessed 12 October 2020).
  • 48
    Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), Submission 14, p. 2.
  • 49
    MUA and ITF, Submission 14, pp. 4, 9.
  • 50
    Home Affairs, Maritime Crew visa (subclass 988), (accessed 30 October 2020).
  • 51
    Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee, Inquiry into the Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016 [Provisions], Report, 22 April 2016.
  • 52
    MUA and ITF, Submission 14, p. 10.
  • 53
    A. Simonis, 'Militant unions escalate picket at Webb Dock',, 8 December 2017, (accessed 22 February 2018).
  • 54
    Mr Neil Gaughan, AFP, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 21.
  • 55
    Mr Neil Gaughan, AFP, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 21.
  • 56
    Mr Neil Gaughan, AFP, Committee Hansard, 1 August 2017, p. 21.
  • 57
    R. G. Smith, T. Oberman and G. Fuller, 'Understanding and Responding to Serious and Organised Crime Involvement in Public Sector Corruption', Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No. 534, October 2018, Australian Institute of Criminology, p. 1.
  • 58
    E. Rowe, T. Akman, R. G. Smith, A. Tomison, 'Organised Crime and Public Sector Corruption: A Crime Scripts Analysis of Tactical Displacement Risks', Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No. 444, Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2013, p. 1.
  • 59
    Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission, Report, September 2017, p. 212.
  • 60
    Australian Government, Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework: Overview, 2009, p. 9. See also the Australian Government's National Organised Crime Response Plan 201518 and National Strategy to fight Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime, 2018.

 |  Contents  |