When New Zealand-born (Joel) Hohepa Morehu-Barlow was charged in December 2011 with allegedly defrauding A$16 million from Queensland Health, there were ripples across the Tasman. It soon emerged there had been no criminal background check before Mr Morehu-Barlow was hired by the State Government in 2005.
Broader scope for CrimTrac
At the time and until very recently, Queensland Police background checks, via the Federal Government’s Crim Trac national database, were limited to Australian jurisdictions only. The then Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, went on to raise the issue with both the Australian and New Zealand prime ministers. Ms Bligh said there was a need to broaden CrimTrac to include New Zealand’s criminal records database, with the aim of allowing police to easily identify any employees who had previously convicted of criminal offences in New Zealand.
Trialling Information Sharing
Federal Justice Minister Jason Clare subsequently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Zealand Justice Minister, Judith Collins. Mr Clare said part of the agreement was intended to enhance the sharing of criminal history information. In May 2012, Justice Minister Clare announced Australia and New Zealand would conduct a six-month trial of information sharing for criminal history records.
” This is the first step in better criminal information sharing between our two countries,” Mr Clare said.
” In a sense, we now have what I think is an Australasian employment market and we need to reflect that in the way we share information, ” New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said.
Details of the trial:
- Trial duration is from July to December 2012
- Only Queensland will be able to seek criminal records from New Zealand.
- New Zealand will be able to seek criminal records from all Australian states and territories.
- Release of criminal records will be in accordance with privacy and spent convictions requirements.
- Criminal records will be released suject to the consent of the individual.
When the trial ends in December 2012, a decision will be made on expanding the arrangment to other Australian jurisdictions to make requests for criminal records from NZ.
This post was originally prepared for Alert24 – a news service delievering news of your choice to your email account.
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