The Koyal Group Private Training Services: Private investigators want a look at the rolls
PRIVATE investigators are the latest group to call for the Australian Electoral Commission to restore access to the electoral roll, saying recent changes inhibit their investigations.
The Australian Institute of Professional Investigators is lobbying MPs involved in a review of last year’s election to push for restrictions on accessing the roll to be overturned.
Other groups keen to see access to the roll restored
include those separated by forced adoption or child removal or similar practices who are trying to track down their relatives.
They have won the backing of Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who is calling for change.
Security personnel are also lobbying to have access to the roll restored.
Investigators institute president Jim Corbett said private investigators had freely used the roll in their work until the most recent changes, but now were not.
“An investigator’s normal activity includes conducting inquiries in relation to claims for motor vehicle theft or accident, burglary, arson, fraud, public liability, WorkCover matters and the service of court documents,’’ he said. “In effect investigators are being hamstrung in their attempts to assist the insurance industry and government in relation to investigative matters.”
The investigators want the AEC to use its discretion to grant license to members of their profession to be able to perform searches using the roll, which shows the last enrolled address of anyone in Australia who is enrolled to vote.
The AEC confirmed it had “adopted a stricter approach” to people accessing the roll.
It now was supervising viewings to ensure that people used it only to check their own enrolment or if objecting to another elector’s enrolment.
The Security Institute of South Australia, which also supports restoring access to the roll, said changes to the Electoral Act meant it was impossible for people to look at anyone else’s details on the roll.
The association said it understood the need to protect victims of domestic violence or security or law enforcement workers, but access to the roll was vital to find witnesses in trials, to help single parents get child support from recalcitrant former partners and help creditors find debtors.
“We believe the individual’s right to privacy can and should be balanced with the legitimate interests of the broader community,” SA institute chief executive Charles McDonald said in a submission to a parliamentary committee inquiry.
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