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14 Oct 2015

Crime and Public Integrity Policy Committee: Annual Review

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. G.A. Kandelaars:

That the report of the committee, on its Annual Review into Public Integrity and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, be noted.

(Continued from 1 July 2015.)

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 20:52 ): I rise to support the motion of the Hon. G.A. Kandelaars that the report of the Crime and Public Integrity Policy Committee on its Annual Review into Public Integrity and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption be noted. A key function of the Crime and Public Integrity Policy Committee is to consider the operation of South Australia’s integrity bodies. I wish to record my thanks to the committee chair, the Hon. G.A. Kandelaars. The content of the report that has been tabled has been agreed to by all the members of the committee.

The committee found at this early stage in the life of the ICAC and the Office for Public Integrity that they appear to have had some positive impact on the anti-corruption endeavours in this state. However, as time passes, a more comprehensive assessment of the worth of the ICAC will be possible. We must never forget that, as a parliament, we must constantly assess the performance of the institutions we create and resource. This is especially the case for those such as ICAC that have powers that infringe upon the rights of the individual.

There may come a time when the need to safeguard the rights of the individual outweighs the results we are achieving with such a powerful organisation. Constant vigilance is required and this is in essence one of the most important roles of the committee.

With the passing of recent amendments in respect of serious and organised crime whereby parliament was asked to declare certain organisations illegal based on criminal intelligence, the role of the committee in the life of the parliament and the state has become even more important.

It is my view that it is untimely for the government to revisit the committee’s terms of reference in this context. Parliament must have the assurance that its integrity structures and the organisations that are vested with great power are working for the best interests of the people of South Australia and not against them.

All institutions are at risk of hubris and the bureaucratic tendency to advance their own interests ahead of the community’s interests. Parliament must not allow those bodies to operate with impunity and in secret at the expense of citizens’ rights—in other words, hide behind the unhappy phrase ‘operational matters’. They must be held accountable if we are to continue to have confidence in continuing to invest them with wide powers to conduct their tasks. If parliament does not choose this committee to undertake this task then other structures may be necessary.

I joined the committee upon the retirement of the Hon. S. Wade from his position on the committee. I thank him for the encouragement he provided to me to take his place on the committee and his wise counsel on matters relating to the state’s integrity structures. I also acknowledge the work of the other members of the committee. I commend the motion to the chamber.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins .

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