Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (29 November) . . Page.. 5146 ..
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Social Inclusion and Equality, Minister for Tourism and Special Events and Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment) (5.32): The government will not be agreeing with Mr Coe's amendment. That is not because we do not think the commission should have the power to open new investigations into matters that have already been investigated. Under the government's preferred clause 8 the commission has the power to open a new investigation into a matter that has been investigated by another body. But it also should have the capacity to consider the effectiveness of a previous inquiry or investigation in making that determination. The requirements under section 8(3) are not a bar or restriction on the ability of the commission to investigate a matter previously investigated but are, instead, matters for the commission to consider.
While the commission, as has been recommended by the two committee reports and examinations, should primarily focus on prospective and current matters it has the power to go all the way back to 1989, and that is as it should be. But Mr Coe's amendment would knock out the capacity of the commission to consider the effectiveness of a previous inquiry or investigation in making that determination.
We do not believe that this provision is a bar or a restriction on the ability of the commission to investigate past matters, so for that reason we will not be supporting Mr Coe's amendment.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (5.33): I agree with Mr Coe that there should not be a bar to looking at a matter that has already been investigated by another organisation, the point being that the integrity commission will have different powers. However, my reading of the legislation—and we have looked at this quite carefully given that it is a dispute point—is that a previous investigation may be a matter the commissioner should consider. If there has been a previous investigation that has made a finding and the commissioner does not see any new evidence or does not feel that there are new angles to bring to the matter or a range of other factors they may consider, the commissioner should have the ability to consider that. We will not be supporting the amendment; we do not believe that this is a bar to investigation in the way it is currently framed.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.34): For me this is probably the most important amendment in this tranche. It is clear from successive committee reports that this was not a matter that should be part of the legislation. There could have been many ways for the government to deal with this and I do not believe the way it is drafted is clear enough. If I were in the commissioner's position I would be relying on the extrinsic material that was produced in the debate where the government has said it is not its intention to do this, but this a very difficult and ham-fisted way of doing it. If it is not the government's intention to prevent the commissioner from investigating things already investigated, we need to agree to Mr Coe's amendment to remove this provision.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (5.36): To provide additional clarity, it is worth looking at amendment No 3 in conjunction with amendment No 4. Amendment No 4 inserts a new catch-all clause which is almost identical to what the government has in 71(3)(k), that is, having regard to all the circumstances further