"No More Business as Usual: ICAC's Message to Australian Politicians"ICAC,Australianpolitics,corruption,politicalethics,accountability,governmenttransparency
"No More Business as Usual: ICAC's Message to Australian Politicians"

“No More Business as Usual: ICAC’s Message to Australian Politicians”

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Politics NSW Berejiklian inquiry: Berejiklian corruption probe sent clear message to politicians, ICAC chief says


The recent investigation into former Premier Gladys Berejiklian by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has been praised by the chief commissioner, John Hatzistergos, for sending a clear message to politicians about the use of power. In the commission’s annual report, Hatzistergos stated that the inquiry, known as Operation Keppel, served as a reminder to public officials about their obligation to report and manage conflicts of interest. However, the report also revealed some controversial details, including the payment made to temporary commissioner Ruth McColl SC and Berejiklian’s legal action against the corruption finding.

Sending a Message about the Use of Power

According to the chief commissioner, Operation Keppel and its findings provide an important reminder to elected officials about the restraints on the use of public power. Hatzistergos emphasized the significance of public officials declaring and addressing conflicts of interest, using public resources appropriately, and reporting suspected corrupt conduct. This serves as a warning to politicians that they must act with transparency and accountability, prioritizing the interests of the public over personal or private motives.

The Corruption Findings

The ICAC report, released on June 29, detailed Berejiklian’s breaches of public trust and partial exercise of her official functions. Specifically, it highlighted her involvement in an allocation of a $5.5 million grant to the Australian Clay Target Association in the electorate of Daryl Maguire, with whom she had a secret relationship. The report also revealed her role in promising $30 million to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music for a recital hall, of which $20 million was not paid. These findings suggest a misuse of public funds and a prioritization of personal interests, leading to a breach of public trust.

Controversial Details

The annual report also unveiled some controversial aspects of the inquiry. Firstly, it was disclosed that Ruth McColl SC, the temporary commissioner overseeing the Berejiklian investigation, was paid $232,200 to draft her report after her initial appointment expired. Berejiklian’s appeal against the ICAC‘s corruption finding includes the contention that McColl was not authorized to make the corruption finding because she was no longer a commissioner when she completed the report. This raises questions about the validity and authority of the findings.

The Integrity of the Investigation Process

The controversy surrounding McColl’s payment and the timing of her report highlights the importance of maintaining integrity in the investigation process. It is essential for the ICAC to ensure that all personnel involved in an inquiry are authorized and appointed in accordance with the guidelines. Any perceived lapses in this process can undermine public confidence in the ICAC‘s findings and its role in holding politicians accountable for their actions.

Handling of the Inquiry and Delays

Another point of contention is the significant delay in releasing the Operation Keppel report. It took 416 days for the report to be released after the public hearings concluded. This delay has drawn criticism and raised concerns about the timeliness and efficiency of the ICAC‘s operations. However, a separate review by the ICAC inspector found no maladministration and deemed the time taken to release the report as reasonable. While delays in such high-profile investigations can lead to public frustration, it is crucial to strike a balance between thoroughness and expediency to ensure a fair and comprehensive investigation.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The Berejiklian corruption probe conducted by the ICAC serves as a stark reminder to politicians in New South Wales about the importance of upholding ethical standards and public trust. It should prompt a broader conversation on political ethics, accountability, and government transparency. To maintain public confidence in the ICAC, it is crucial that the commission addresses any potential shortcomings or controversies arising from this inquiry, ensuring that all aspects of the investigation process are conducted within established guidelines. Transparency, efficiency, and adherence to the rule of law are essential to safeguard the integrity of future anti-corruption investigations and maintain public faith in the political system.


"No More Business as Usual: ICAC
<< photo by Anete Lusina >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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