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Integrity Commission

18 August 2015

QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Every Australian state, territory and the Commonwealth has within its criminal law framework an offence of misconduct in public office. Every jurisdiction that is, except Tasmania. Do you believe that is acceptable or appropriate? Is Murray Kellam wrong again when he says a number of investigations undertaken by the Integrity Commission would have resulted in prosecution had such an offence been in existence in Tasmania? Are you aware that the Integrity Commission has repeatedly called for an amendment to the Criminal Code Act 1924 to create this offence? It presented a comprehensive interjurisdictional review on prosecuting serious misconduct to the recently-completed three-year review of the Integrity Commission. You and your Treasurer say this issue will be examined in the five-year review, but is it not a fact that the three-year review has just concluded and your Government is showing a complete resistance to bringing Tasmania into line with the other states? What has your Government got to hide? Why should Tasmania stand alone as the only Australia jurisdiction not to treat misconduct in public office with the seriousness it deserves?


ANSWER
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and repeat that we take these matters very seriously. Our Criminal Code provides for capturing of misconduct within the public sector. It includes existing provisions relating to fraud, stealing, dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage, disclosing official secrets, bribery, and crimes relating to corruption and abuse of public office. Section 83 covers corruption of a public officer; section 85, public officers interested in contracts; section 234, stealing; 252A, acquiring a financial advantage; 257, computer-related fraud; 266, secret commissions - as examples. To suggest that misconduct, including in the circumstances described above, cannot be investigated or prosecuted under our current criminal laws is patently incorrect. Our laws have provision as I have outlined. We have not, as some opposite claim, sought to reduce the ability of the commission to undertake its operations.

We have noted the comments of Mr Kellam and we are considering the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Integrity. I make the point that the joint standing committee was not unanimous in recommending the creation of a new misconduct in public office offence.