Page 2366 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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Public confidence in the commissioner’s role in investigating alleged corrupt conduct is critical to their role, including that they themselves are free of any actual or perceived conflict of interest. Considerable work has been undertaken in the exposure draft to ensure the protection of a person’s human rights, to meet the government’s legislative responsibilities under the Human Rights Act 2004.

Where a human right may be limited by the operation of the bill, sufficient safeguards have been proposed to reduce any undue impact. Specifically, the commission must undertake a public interest test in determining whether a public or private examination should be held. The commission and the inspector of the commission must also have regard to any information they disclose in their reports and the impact it may have on a person’s human rights. Achieving a balance between public interest in exposing corruption in public administration and public interest in avoiding undue prejudice to a person’s reputation is an objective of this exposure draft.

An analysis of the human rights considerations is outlined in the explanatory statement. The exposure draft has been through the government’s legislative scrutiny process from a human rights and criminal law perspective. Consultation and engagement on the exposure draft was undertaken with the ACT Auditor-General, the ACT Ombudsman, the ACT Electoral Commission, the Clerk of the Assembly, the ACT Public Sector Standards Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Human Rights Commission and the Chief Police Officer.

Stakeholders provided valuable feedback, and the government has taken this feedback into consideration in developing the exposure draft. Specifically, the exposure draft provides the commission with a power to investigate, dismiss or refer corruption complaints. Where the commission refers a complaint to a referral entity, the entity’s inherent statutory independence in deciding whether to investigate the matter remains. As recommended by the select committee, the exposure draft provides that the commission’s jurisdiction extends to members of ACT Policing.

I have also received correspondence from the Prime Minister about the coverage of ACT Policing. I can advise the Assembly that the Prime Minister has formally agreed to the commencement of discussions between senior officials in the ACT government and the Department of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department. These discussions will explore avenues to amend relevant commonwealth legislation for the inclusion of ACT Policing in the scope of the integrity commission. The commencement of these provisions in the exposure draft has been delayed by 12 months to allow for these negotiations.

The exposure draft applies to any conduct that happened at any time before the bill commences but will not apply to conduct that happened before self-government in 1989. There are safeguards in the exposure draft to ensure that the commission does not expose a person who has already been punished or disciplined to additional penalties for the same matter.

It also ensures that the commission does not investigate a matter that has already been investigated by another body unless there is reliable, substantial and highly probative

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