Page 2954 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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stage 1 reforms. A subsequent article appeared in the June 2011 e-news and in June 2011, industry associations were again invited to a meeting to discuss the new licensing requirements and reforms that are covered in this bill. I understand that no significant issues were raised at this meeting.

To improve the regulator’s ability to determine the suitability of an applicant, the provisions in this bill will allow the Commissioner for Fair Trading to take into account all relevant information, including criminal intelligence, when making licensing decisions. Importantly, the bill will also protect individual rights by providing a process of review where criminal intelligence is able to be considered and the courts and tribunals have the power to determine if information used in making decisions should be kept confidential.

To improve probity checks and identity verification, these amendments will require applicants for a security licence to submit to a fingerprint check to verify their identity. The government has committed $402,000 in the 2011-12 budget to fund the new scheme, including the cost of new fingerprinting equipment and staffing resources to administer the scheme. This is in addition to the existing requirement that applicants provide a police certificate to be eligible for a security industry licence. This will ensure better verification of identity at the time of making the application and maintain the ability of the commissioner to verify identity throughout the licence term.

Additionally, provision has been made for the commissioner to request a copy of a person’s criminal history if they have been living in another country for 12 months or more within five years before their application. If the commissioner is not satisfied as to the person’s probity during the period a person is absent from Australia, the licence can be refused. If an applicant has difficulty obtaining a criminal history from overseas, the commissioner has the discretion to not consider the application. If the applicant is able to satisfy the commissioner about their probity while overseas through the provision of other information or documentation, then a licence can still be granted.

To ensure the suitability of licensees, if a person is convicted or found guilty of certain offences as agreed by COAG, the bill provides that they will automatically be considered unsuitable to hold a licence. The bill requires that the commissioner not issue a licence if the applicant has been convicted in their previous 10 years or found guilty of those offences in the previous five. The exclusionary offences are serious offences such as assault, firearms offences, robbery and offences involving terrorism. To maintain the integrity of the security industry, the commissioner must be able to deal promptly with any adverse events relating to licensees as they arise.

The amendments made by this bill will insert into the act cancellation and suspension powers for the commissioner. The cancellation powers only relate to those offences that automatically preclude a person from holding a licence and the new power only applies to current licensees if the conviction or finding of guilt occurred after the commencement of the amendments. The suspension power only applies if the commissioner is taking, or intends to take, occupational discipline proceedings against a licensee and the commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that the licence

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