Report of the Independent Panel Review of the Jurisdiction of the ICAC released
Premier Mike Baird today released the report of the Independent Panel Review of the Jurisdiction of the ICAC.
The Independent Panel Review was commissioned as part of the Government’s response to the decision of the High Court of Australia in ICAC v Cunneen  HCA 14, delivered in April 2015.
The independent panel, chaired by the former Chief Justice of the High Court, the Hon Murray Gleeson AC QC, and included Mr Bruce McClintock SC, considered as part of its terms of reference:
- The appropriate scope for ICAC’s jurisdiction;
- Any legislative measures necessary to provide ICAC with the powers it needs to expose serious and/or systemic corruption; and
- Whether any limits or enhancements should be applied to those powers.
The Review rejected the proposal that the ICAC’s jurisdiction be expanded to cover the “broad” jurisdiction it thought it had prior to the High Court’s decision, and did not support a reversal of the High Court’s interpretation of the ICAC’s jurisdiction.
However, it did recommend that the Government extend the ICAC’s jurisdiction in respect of “corrupt conduct” to include certain specified criminal acts of non-public officials that could “impair public confidence in public administration”, such as collusive tendering for government contracts, fraudulently obtaining government mining leases.
The Review also recommended to the Government that it:
- Limit the ICAC’s power to make findings of “corrupt conduct” to cases where the corrupt conduct is “serious”;
- Widen the ICAC’s education, advisory and prevention functions to cover the purpose of promoting the integrity and good standing of public administration;
- Allow the Electoral Commission to refer to the ICAC for investigation possible serious breaches of electoral and lobbying laws; and
- Provide that any possible breaches of the electoral and lobbying laws already under investigation in Operations Credo and Spicer are taken to have been referred to the ICAC, so that it may complete and report on those investigations.
A separate report by the Inspector of the ICAC, the Hon David Levine QC, is still being finalised. Mr Levine is assessing ICAC’s conduct of past and current investigations; whether the ICAC’s powers, and its exercise of its powers, are consistent with justice and fairness; the extent to which ICAC investigations give rise to prosecution and conviction; and whether any limits or enhancements should be applied to ICAC’s powers.
The Government has accepted and will implement all of the recommendations of the Review, and is consulting the Opposition ahead of further legislation being introduced to give effect to the recommendations.
The Report of the Independent Panel Review of the Jurisdiction of the ICAC can be downloaded here.