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Open hearings for ICAC

The Marshall Liberal Government has fulfilled a principal pledge of its election platform with the introduction of a Bill enabling the ICAC Commissioner to conduct hearings into serious or systemic misconduct and maladministration in public.

“We went to the people of South Australia promising to introduce this legislation within our first 100 days in office and we have delivered that pledge,” said Attorney General Vickie Chapman.

“The Oakden scandal exposed a deep rift between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party about the need for greater transparency in how the ICAC should operate.

“The former Labor Government fought tooth and nail to prevent the ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander conducting his hearings into the Oakden scandal in public, despite Mr Lander specifically requesting that option.

“By opposing open ICAC hearings into the Oakden scandal Labor put their political interests before the interests of the elderly residents at Oakden, their families and the wider community.”

The amendment to the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 will provide the Commissioner with the discretion to hold public hearings into potential issues of serious or systematic maladministration or misconduct in public administration.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to improving transparency and accoutantability of all levels of government including the ICAC,” said Ms Chapman.

“This Bill does what the Commissioner Bruce Lander has been requesting for several years and came to a head during the Oakden scandal.”

In the Oakden report, the Commissioner wrote: “this investigation has firmly reinforced my view that the legislation under which I operate ought to be amended to give me the discretion to conduct investigations of this kind in public.” (p16)

These amendments address the Commissioner’s comments in a practical and simple way.

The amendments remove the requirement for the Commissioner, when dealing with an investigation into matters raising a potential issue of serious or systemic maladministration or misconduct in public administration, to exercise powers of an inquiry agency and set out the powers and functions relating to such investigations in schedule 3A of the ICAC Act.