Nick McKim MP | Greens Justice spokesperson
The Joint Select Committee on Integrity has missed an important opportunity to adequately strengthen the investigative powers of the Integrity Commission.
The Report should have recommended that the Criminal Code Act 1924 be amended to create the crime of Misconduct in Public Office. Its failure to do this will leave Tasmania as the only jurisdiction in Australia without this offense, and means that actions which involve misconduct rather than corruption may be unable to be prosecuted.
The Commission has requested this change, stating that ‘The Commission believes that providing it with the option to recommend consideration of criminal charges in cases of the most serious misconduct would enable it to more effectively meet the objectives of the IC Act.’
The Report should have also recommended that the Integrity Commission be given the status of a law enforcement agency, which would have assisted it to obtain essential telecommunications information. The Integrity Commission submitted to the Committee that relevant legislation be amended to give it law enforcement status, which would ‘significantly enhance the Commission’s ability to carry out its investigative functions’.
We need continued vigilance against corruption in Tasmania, and the best way to do that is to ensure that the Integrity Commission has the powers it has asked for.
The Committee has made some recommendations that will, if implemented, improve the investigative functions of the Commission. But taken as a whole it leaves the Commission somewhat hamstrung, and lacking the powers necessary for it to be a strong anti-corruption watchdog.
Thankfully the Committee recommended the retention of the investigative function of the Integrity Commission. It is now incumbent on the Premier and the Attorney-General to ditch their controversial policy of stripping the Commission of its investigative powers.