Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson
The Australia Institute report on Tasmania’s Integrity Commission, released today, outlines a culture of secrecy and an addiction to timidity like no other comparable body in the country. This means Tasmanians are exposed to corruption that is not investigated, allowing it to spawn and degrade our democracy.
The Australia Institute’s “Still Toothless” report is a damning update on the Commission’s continued failure to hold public hearings, and its small number of investigations. The report charges the Gutwein Government with hobbling the Commission by starving it of resources and stalling the recommended necessary legislative changes from a six-year old review.
The preconditions for the current Integrity Commission’s weak defence of democratic institutions were laid out by the Honourable Murray Kellam AO, it’s first Chief Commissioner, in 2015. He pointed to the Liberal Government’s 20% funding cut, and its refusal then to amend the “manifestly inadequate legislative framework” the Commission has laboured under since 2010.
Attorney General, Elise Archer has only legislated 6 of 55 recommendations made by the Cox Review in 2016. Many of these essential legislative changes had been recommended to the Liberals when they came to Government in 2014.
While the Liberals attempted to catch up some of the early cuts they made to the Commission in last year’s State Budget, our integrity body’s resourcing still lags other jurisdictions.
At every opportunity, the Liberals have kept our investigatory body on a tight leash.
Abuses of fraud, bribery, misuse of resources cannot be punished when there is no ability to prosecute public officers for corruption.
The Greens supported previous Commissioner Kellam’s call to amend the Criminal Code to include an offence of ‘misconduct in public office’, but the Government voted against our 2015 bill, and have steadfastly refused subsequent calls for this offence.
The Government also blocked our Bill to ensure incumbent Members of Parliament can be investigated by the Commission for their conduct during election campaigns.
The overwhelming majority of Tasmanians want to have transparency and strength in their integrity body, and corruption in public dealings uncovered and prosecuted. Without full funding and independence of the Integrity Commission, Tasmanians’ confidence in our Government and public bodies risks turning into cynicism and mistrust.