Page 5126 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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our ICAC commissioner. They were willing to argue that. It is pretty bizarre that you would actually think that an ICAC could have community confidence by having an ex-politician as the commissioner.

Anyway, that was what they were pushing for. Whom did they have in mind, I wonder? There are a few names I can think of coming out of New South Wales that would be ideal for the role based on the experience they have had, but perhaps they are not ones that would fill the community with confidence.

There is also no start date for the commission. The government also did not want to include misconduct in the scope of the commission. They also wanted to have a default of private hearings and they wanted to exclude matters that had previously been investigated, or at least brush them to one side. We are pleased that we have been able to negotiate these out of the bill that is before us today, or at least we will be trying to amend them out of the legislation that is before us.

We still have concerns that there is no fixed commencement date. There is a risk that the establishment of this commission could be pushed back. We would be in the hands of the government in terms of how they resource this commission. We think it is incumbent upon the Assembly to set a firm start date for this commission, and that should be 1 July.

We also hold concerns that there is a risk that if our amendments are not supported, the commission could well be politicised. We also believe that if conduct is deemed to be corrupt, the commission should be able to call it as they see it. It should not have to be serious; it should not have to be systemic. If it is corrupt, the integrity commission should be able to publish that.

We believe in the broadest definition of corrupt conduct. We believe that that should apply. The commission should not be restricted from looking into matters that it sees fit to examine. We of course will have oversight roles. So if the commission goes into territory that we think is either overreach or political, there will be the capacity to rein them in. However, we should trust this commission and the commissioner. Therefore, we should not be putting unreasonable restrictions on their work.

We also hold concerns that the bill may, in fact, make the default for hearing public. Public hearings could be delayed or frustrated by appeals. We may revisit this after receiving advice from the commission. We still believe that the commission should have the same powers as Assembly committees or preliminary inquiries. We will seek to bring forward amendments to this effect next year. I think that it is highly likely that there will be another wave of amendments to this legislation that we will not be able to get through today. So prior to the commission becoming fully operational, I think we may well need further legislation, another amendment bill. The Canberra Liberals will certainly be working towards that.

Finally, our concern is that the government may starve the commission of the resources that it needs. We have to make sure that this ICAC is funded properly. We will be doing everything we can from this side of the chamber to make sure that appropriate resources are appropriated to ensure that the ICAC has the teeth it needs.

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