Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 29 November 2018) . . Page.. 5138 ..
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) (5.03), in reply: I thank members for their contributions this afternoon on the bill, which establishes the first ACT integrity commission and allows for the inaugural integrity commissioner to be appointed.
The bill that we are considering this afternoon is, as we have heard, the result of numerous discussions and negotiations with all parties in the last week, the last month and the last year, and indeed since the formation of this parliament after the 2016 election, when the Assembly established the initial select committee to inquire into an independent integrity commission.
For the benefit of members, I will provide some further detail on components of the bill. As members know, the main focus of the commission will be to investigate corruption in the territory’s public administration. The commission will have significant powers, including powers under warrant to enter and search premises, to seize and retain items, and to acquire information and hold examinations.
The new body will play an important role in ensuring the transparency and accountability of the ACT public sector and the Legislative Assembly. The commission will have wide-ranging scope to investigate alleged corrupt conduct in relation to all ACT public sector entities; their employees and contract staff in government directorates; statutory office holders, including boards and tribunals; members of the Legislative Assembly and their staff; the judiciary; and those performing functions of a public nature.
The commission has a specific remit to prioritise the investigation and exposure of serious corrupt conduct and systemic corrupt conduct. Members are aware that the territory already has a number of levels of independent oversight and transparency bodies. This includes the independent Auditor-General, the independent ACT Ombudsman, and the ACT Public Sector Standards Commissioner. The Assembly itself also has the Commissioner for Standards and the Ethics and Integrity Adviser.
The integrity commission will liaise and coordinate its activities with the activities of these other entities in order to avoid delays and unnecessary duplication of work. The commission will have the power to enter into a memorandum of understanding or agreement with these other entities to assist in meeting these requirements. The commission will be required to deliver education programs aimed at preventing corrupt conduct in public administration. This is a very important part of the commission’s work, and it is anticipated that the commission will work with these other entities to deliver their preventative education programs.
As I outlined in my presentation speech earlier in the week, the definition of corrupt conduct in the bill has been changed from earlier exposure draft versions to align more closely with the New South Wales definition. The corrupt conduct definition continues to rely on the Criminal Code chapter 3, instead of listing matters that will be determined by common law. However, a footnote has been included in this section to