29 Jan 2012

Trans-Tasman criminal check process under scrutiny

6:03 pm on 29 January 2012

New Zealand and Australia are to look at toughening the sharing of information about the criminal convictions of people applying for jobs on the other side of the Tasman.

The two countries will conduct an initial six month study with Queensland to test how it can be done.

Prime Minister John Key met his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard in Melbourne on Sunday where the two leaders canvassed a range of trans-Tasman matters.

Mr Key says the problem of information sharing emerged after a New Zealander Joel Morehu-Barlow, was charged with fraud.

He had held a senior post at Queensland Health which did not discover his criminal history in this country before he was hired.

"That may have been possible through a rather clunky system, so in one sense the system arguably works, but only if you go through quite a number of steps. So the purpose of the trial is to see whether we can make the process easier, have better information sharing," said Mr Key.

Aside from looking at information sharing about people's criminal convictions, the two governments have also agreed to review defence ties, with the possibility of greater co-ordination of military purchases.

They will also strengthen co-operation on cyber security and New Zealand will become a member of Australia's national counter-terrorism committee.

On the economy a joint study will be conducted to identify areas where the two economies can be more closely integrated.