Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Australia and NZ to share crime files

Judith Collins. Photo / Michael Craig
Judith Collins. Photo / Michael Craig

Criminal files will be shared between Australia and New Zealand after an agreement was signed this week.

Minister of Justice Judith Collins and Australian Attorney-General George Brandis QC, announced today employers on both sides of the Tasman will have greater access to national criminal history checks for employment vetting purposes.

The announcement follows a successful trial of criminal history information sharing between New Zealand and Queensland.

The stronger levels of co-operation were sparked by the horrific murder of Jade Bayliss in 2011.

Double child killer Jeremy McLaughlin was jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years for the killing of the Christchurch schoolgirl.

Jury members weren't allowed to know McLaughlin's criminal history from Australia where, in 1995, he bashed 14-year-old Phillip Vidot with a cricket bat, and a mate ran over Vidot in a car. The boy died, and Mclaughlin was sentenced to 12 years in jail for manslaughter.

After four years he was deported to his native New Zealand in 2001.

News of McLaughlin's prior history sparked calls, endorsed by Ms Collins, for better sharing of criminal convictions between Australia and New Zealand.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will now be developed to expand the trial to all Australian states and to all eligible Australian and New Zealand organisations. The decision was made in Sydney as part of the Australia-New Zealand Joint Cabinet Meeting.

"Often New Zealand employers need both Australian and New Zealand criminal history checks to make fully informed employment decisions," Ms Collins said. "This is particularly important for positions that involve working with children and vulnerable people to help protect our communities from people who may pose a risk."

Senator Brandis said there are approximately 600,000 New Zealanders in Australia at any one time.

"Facilitating access to criminal background checks will enhance community safety and security," said Senator Brandis.

"As the movement of workers between Australia and New Zealand has grown it makes sense that employers in both Australia and New Zealand have access to the type of background information that is available for local workers."

As part of the existing trial, participating employers were able to request criminal history checks on behalf of job candidates who had given consent.

- NZ Herald

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