Committee On The Independent Commission Against Corruption



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SpeakersNagle Mr Peter; Gaudry Mr Bryce
BusinessCommittee

COMMITTEE ON THE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION
Collation of Evidence

Mr NAGLE (Auburn) [12.21]: I commend the chairman of the Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption and my colleagues who sat on that committee. The chairman conducted himself fairly and impartially and put a lot of work into the preparation of this review. I thank committee staff David and Grace for the help they gave me and other members of the committee and for their preparation of material. It was a good experience to be a member of that committee. In reviewing the work of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the committee received a number of complaints. The committee visited Hong Kong to look at the operations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption there. We had intense and interesting discussions during that four-day visit and were able to witness the effectiveness of the operations of that commission. The chairman and I presented a paper to the Third International Anti-Corruption Conference in Amsterdam, which was well received by all delegates. Yesterday the honourable member for Cronulla, the chairman of the committee, said in this Chamber that one of the most important things we asked Mr Temby to look at was the overview of organised crime and its relationship to corruption. The honourable member for Cronulla said:
      The committee asked whether ICAC could see value in the preparation of a similar overview of corrupt conduct in New South Wales and whether ICAC would undertake to prepare such an overview.

Mr Temby, when questioned by journalist Quentin Dempster on 16th February said:
      Corruption has ceased to be a political issue in New South Wales since Nick Greiner established the Independent Commission Against Corruption on March 18, 1989.

Mr Dempster said:
      Last week Ian Temby QC reaffirmed that he had no intention of taking over "mythological" parts of political history like the Enmore conspiracy and the Botany Council affair. He and his staff had assessed all available evidence and published reasons why a line should be drawn in arranging the Independent Commission Against Corruption's fighting priorities and the most effective use of its $12 million-a-year budget.

On 12th November, 1991, Mr Dempster said:
      New South Wales and Sydney, once "frankly something of a cesspit" are no longer Australia's prime places for scandal and corruption.

The questions that were asked by the committee concerning corruption in New South Wales must be answered by Mr Temby. For example, what means should be used to prevent it? When I was in Hong Kong with the committee section 14 of the Hong Kong legislation was brought to our attention. That section calls upon a public servant to show cause as to how he obtained assets that may be considered to be far in excess of his income. If he fails to comply, section 14 is invoked and he can then be brought to trial. The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Reid, was asked to show cause. He fled Hong Kong and was arrested in Manila. He was returned to Hong Kong and is now serving eight years' imprisonment, under section 14, for receiving remuneration as
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Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. Mr Reid had property in Hong Kong and in Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia estimated to be worth $12 million. It is important for us to review legislation to determine what powers can be given to an organisation such as this and what this Parliament can do to assist it.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has a budget of only $12.8 million, so it is restricted in what it an do and in how much it can spend in areas such as education in corruption prevention. The committee would like to give Mr Temby whatever assistance it can to assist him in carrying out his difficult task. I am sure the chairman of the committee would agree with me when I say that we were told by Mr Peter Allan, Commissioner of the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption, that after 17 years of operation - it commenced in 1973 - it is now reviewing its own operations and the strategies it uses to determine the level of corruption in Hong Kong. We hope Mr Temby will be able to give us some ideas so that we can determine what direction should be taken in the future. I commend Mr Temby and his staff for the good work they are doing in a most difficult area. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has an important role to play in examining corruption in both the public sector and the private sector. I hope it will look at that matter at some time in the future. Mr Goldstock said at the Third International Anti-Corruption Conference that organised crime could move into legitimate government enterprises and corrupt tendering procedures and activities. [Time expired.]

Mr GAUDRY (Newcastle) [12.26]: I concur with what has been said about the review of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It was a great privilege for me, in my first term as a member of Parliament, to be appointed to the Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I pay tribute to my fellow committee members - in particular, the chairman of the committee - for the role they played. The committee has an important task in overviewing the work of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The committee, after its latest meeting with Mr Temby, looked at some important aspects. Earlier, my parliamentary colleague the honourable member for Auburn referred to the chapter on strategic intelligence. Recently the committee went to Hong Kong to view the Independent Commission Against Corruption there. After discussions with the strategic unit of the Hong Kong commission it was interesting to discover what methods it was using to determine the level of corruption. In a dynamic area such as this, sophisticated surveillance measures are available. The strategic unit in Hong Kong is carrying out this painstaking intelligence work to create an important picture of corruption. It is important for this committee, in reviewing the work of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, not to expect the commission, in its first few years of operation, to be able to provide a sophisticated concept of corruption.

This is an important matter. We covered other important areas with the commissioner, Mr Temby; for example, the role of the operations review committee. Some members of the committee desire to see a form of checks and balances in the operations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is important for the operations review committee to look closely at this matter with a view to strengthening the role of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The Parliament should also look more closely at the work of the operations review committee. I was impressed with the responses we received from members of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The committee has met regularly with the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption in order to obtain a clear idea of its effectiveness.

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I raise one point of particular concern to me, the community's perception of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and of persons called to assist the commission with its inquiries. ICAC inquiries have been conducted in Newcastle and are ongoing, and many people who have had contact with the ICAC have expressed concern that that contact has had some impact on their reputations in the community. That is a cause of concern to the committee and one of the reasons that the ongoing action by the ICAC, both in corruption prevention and education, is necessary - education being an important part of its role. It is most important that publicity associated with ICAC hearings is balanced by the development of knowledge of the work of the ICAC, through general education in the community and the school system. The commissioner is taking steps to have that aspect of the ICAC more fully understood.