Commissioner slams Scott Morrison’s criticism of NSW’s anti-corruption watchdog

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NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Stephen Rushton told a parliamentary review that references to the ICAC as a ‘kangaroo court’ are not only misleading but also false.

The people who made the comments were “buffoons”, he told a parliamentary review on Monday.

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Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed the ICAC amid pressure to commit to a federal anti-corruption body.

“I’m very critical of some ICACs, particularly in New South Wales,” Mr Morrison said.

He compared the ICAC NSW’s model of holding public hearings to a “kangaroo court” and criticized its investigation into former Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian.

This investigation into disgraced former NSW MP Daryl Maguire has revealed that Ms Berejiklian once had a personal relationship with him.

Commissioner addresses critics, calling them ‘buffoons’

The term “kangaroo court” is often used to describe an ad hoc tribunal that has limited power and does not follow normal legal procedures.

NSW set up its Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1988, and there have long been calls for its model to be adopted at federal level, despite objections from the Prime Minister.

Mr Rushton said the ICAC had been in place for over 30 years, exposing corruption and maintaining trust in public administration.

“To those buffoons who have repeatedly portrayed this commission as a puppet court, I would say three things,” he said.

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“First, it is deeply offensive to the hardworking staff of the commission. It undermines the institution.

“Secondly, there are great differences between the functions of the commission and those of a tribunal.

“These differences are easily accessible, and there has been much written about these vast differences.

“Describing us as a kangaroo court is not only misleading, but wrong.”

“Making an uninformed comment that this commission is a puppet court has a real potential to undermine the work of the commission and, just as importantly, public confidence in public administration,” he said. declared.

Chief Commissioner rejects Prime Minister’s criticism

The head of the anti-corruption watchdog, Chief Commissioner Peter Hall, also launched a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Morrison, saying his comments were ‘simply wrong’, ‘misguided and baseless’ – adding that it was very difficult to detect and prove corrupt conduct. .

“Corruption involves acts done under conditions of great secrecy, often concealed and rarely witnessed by an eyewitness,” Mr Hall said.

“From time to time there are misguided and baseless criticisms of one or more members of our community, of the powers of the commission and of its work.

“Whatever the motive or purpose behind such criticism, a good understanding of the legal requirements, the processes of the oversight safeguards, will reveal to the misguided critic that he or she is simply wrong,” he said.

Mr Hall said the ICAC had enforcement powers but was subject to a compliance framework, as well as internal and external accountability systems.

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ICAC public inquiries are also subject to ongoing considerations to protect against unwarranted reputational damage, he said.

During the last reporting period, the ICAC completed three public inquiries and provided five inquiry reports to parliament.

Personnel remained a problem for the commission with shortages in its investigative and legal teams, he said.

“We don’t have the numbers we asked for and need,” he said.

Last month, Mr Hall told a budget hearing that the ICAC had been forced to drop some of its investigations and scale back others due to a lack of resources.

The commission’s key performance indicators have been scaled back and reports have been delayed, he said.

ICAC investigations are complex matters that can take long periods of time.

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