No company wants to accidentally hire a terrorist, and the Commonwealth Bank is making doubly sure Osama doesn’t get a job in the Parramatta branch. 

In a recent memo to recruitment companies working for the bank, CBA asked that they check all potential recruits against DFAT’s terrorist list:  

Dear Account Managers,

Please find attached the link for the DFAT (Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade) terrorist checks.

Effective immediately, all recruitment suppliers must ensure that any
candidates forwarded to the Bank for consideration for a Permanent,
Contract or Casual role are NOT on the DFAT consolidated list.

A list of all terrorist names can be found on the following DFAT

Attached is additional information about the DFAT requirements.

Please forward this information to all relevant staff and provide
confirmation of your intent to comply with the Bank’s requirements via
return email.

The CBA’s policy is designed to “enhance the bank’s compliance with the spirit of the Governments anti-terrorist legislation”, CBA’s media affairs manager Bryan Fitzgerald told Crikey. “We believe that these requirements are standard across many firms and should not be new to the recruitment industry.”

Really? Competitor ANZ doesn’t take this approach, says spokesman Paul Edwards. All new employees “are required to sign a statutory declaration that they haven’t had criminal conviction and we also do a police check to verify this.”

The CBA directive looks a bit like “an interesting method of racial profiling”, says Muslim commentator Irfan Yusuf. After all, some of the names on the DFAT list are “common in some 50-plus Muslim-majority states, not to mention among Muslims living outside these states”.

Mohammad, for example, is “the most common name for a male on the planet”. And names like “Omar” are also common in Spanish-speaking cultures.

Nonetheless, the CBA believes accidental discrimination is unlikely because DFAT lists specific names, “including names and surnames and also has additional information on the suspected terrorists such as date of birth, country of birth etc. when known”, says Fitzgerald. This “removes/minimises the likelihood of discrimination”.

But in many cases, the DFAT list has only single names, like “Khalid”, “Ahmed, A”, “Abdullah”, “Sa-id”, “Samir”, “Aleph”, “Mahmud”, and a few of these don’t even have DOB or COB details.

We would “expect that recruitment agencies are diligent in their processes”, says Fitzgerald. Or maybe, when they see the name Mohammad, they’ll just feel it’s more work and pass.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey