Page 4642 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017
ICAC of the Parliament of New South Wales; and, finally, the Clerk’s office of the New South Wales parliament.
Together, these groups and the people in them have had a significant impact on the outcome of this committee’s report, and without their generous giving to us of their time and expertise in their respective fields I do not believe that we, as people who started this process as somewhat amateurs in this field of expertise, would have achieved what we have. I believe that their guidance and the learnings that we were able to lean on in order to avoid common mistakes have informed us very well.
I would also like to thank my fellow committee members—Mr Rattenbury as chair, Ms Cody, Mr Steel and Ms Lee—for the collaborative approach they have taken to the detailed investigation of an anti-corruption commission for Canberra. Finally, I would also like to put my thanks on record to Dr Andrea Cullen, who has worked tirelessly to have this report ready for us to table today, and all those in this place who work behind the scenes to keep up with the production of such reports. On behalf of myself and Elizabeth Lee, my colleague in this place, I thank all who have been involved in the report.
MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (10.39): I too would like to thank my colleagues who sat on this wonderfully progressive select committee. I also thank the committee secretary, Dr Andrea Cullen. I would like to take a moment to thank all of the people that we consulted with locally, and I also refer to the generosity of the other jurisdictions that Mrs Jones has just mentioned in sharing their advice and experience. The resounding message that we got out of all of our interstate visits was that we should act carefully and deliberately in setting up the ACIC and avoid rushing through the process. Getting the ACT ACIC right, in its design and implementation, is too important for us to be sloppy. This committee report is an important step in the Barr Labor government’s commitment to delivering an independent integrity commission to the ACT. I hope the government carefully considers the report, and I look forward to the government’s response in the coming period.
As noted by Mr Rattenbury, one area that was robustly debated was about defaulting to public or private hearings, or examinations, as we have noted in the report. My colleague Mr Steel and I differed slightly from other committee members on this point. The difference of opinion was about the purpose of the commission. Should its purpose be to expose corruption or to make sure crooks and shonks go to jail? Ideally, we could have both, but the experience in other jurisdictions tells us differently. Public hearings often alert the guilty to an investigation, giving them the chance to cover it up. Also, the different standards of evidence between a commission and a criminal prosecution can mean the commission’s public hearings can spoil the evidence that may have later led to a conviction.
Therefore, Mr Steel and I would prefer that public hearings or examinations are limited to where the commissioner considers, on reasonable grounds, that there are exceptional circumstances and that it is in the public interest to hold a public examination, and where a public examination can be held without causing unreasonable damage to a person’s reputation, safety and wellbeing. We believe the ACT ACIC should prioritise putting crooks in prison, not in the papers.