You are here

Integrity Commission of Tasmania - Report

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 10 March 2022

Tags: Integrity Commission, Integrity

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I move -

That the House take note of the following matter: report into the Integrity Commission of Tasmania.

I bring to the House's attention a critical report on Tasmania's integrity body titled Still toothless: jurisdictional, funding and secrecy issues in the Integrity Commission Tasmania by the Australia Institute. I apologise to the Government, I would have circulated it to you beforehand. It was on the front page of the newspaper and I only received a copy of it this morning. I have circulated it to the Opposition and the Independent member. I assume the Attorney-General would be aware of this report since it was on the front page of the Mercury. I seek to table the report.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I move -

That this paper be accepted.

Leave granted.

Dr WOODRUFF - This is an incredibly damning report. Its findings are simple, that our integrity body, the hallmark, the cornerstone of -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Excuse me, Dr Woodruff, could you please bring a copy up to the table too.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is a matter of incredible importance to this state. It goes to the cornerstone of democracy. If we do not have a functioning, independent and fearless public Integrity Commission, then we can have no confidence that matters of corruption, matters of bribery and serious matters of nepotism are brought to light and the people who are undertaking these matters of democratic perfidy are brought to account and, if they have caused criminal actions, then they should be charged and convicted. That would be the best outcome for Tasmania.

The majority of Tasmanians are concerned that we do not have a sufficiently robust Integrity Commission. They understand that what we have in place is functionally toothless.

I thank the researchers, Eloise Carr and Rachel Hay [OK], for the report they have produced on behalf of Tasmanians who care about democracy. Their research found that 80 per cent of Tasmanians believe the Integrity Commission needs to undergo structural change so that its design is improved, its existing powers are used properly and that it holds public hearings. The Integrity Commission in Tasmania has only ever referred two people for prosecution. It has never referred a person holding a public office for prosecution. As the report finds, appallingly, we are the only state that has never had public hearings. We have never had a publicly conducted investigation in Tasmania.

It is clear that this is not because we do not have failures of integrity in Tasmania. It is clear that this is not evidence of no corruption in Tasmania, and it is not no evidence of corruption in public office. From the very first inception of the Integrity Commission in Tasmania back in 2012 and 2013, the first Integrity Commission period, they surveyed Tasmanians and found 88 per cent of people agreed that our public sector is just as likely to behave unethically as people in any other public sector in Australia. It is totally naive to think that Bass Strait is some inoculator for corruption. It is absolutely naive.

In the words of the honourable Murray Kellam:

To assert, as this government has done in earlier days, that bodies such as Tasmania Police have the capacity to detect and investigate such public sector corruption …

Murray Kellam was Tasmania's first Integrity Commission chief commissioner. He took that role from 2010, the start of the Integrity Commission, to 2015. His parting shot in the letter he wrote when he finished his term on 7 August 2015 says everything about where we are today. The antecedents for today's failures to bring public corruption and bribery to light are written in Murray Kellam's parting letter seven years ago. If the honourable Mr Kellam were here today, I am sure he would be nodding his head vigorously at the contents of this report, because he had the foresight to write down, seven years ago, all the problems that are written in this report from the Australia Institute - and all the problems that the Greens and others who care about democracy in this state have been speaking about ever since the Liberals took government.

The point that Murray Kellam made was that as soon as they came to government, the Liberals took 20 per cent out of the Integrity Commission's budget. They just slashed it. Their argument was based on, in his words -

The mistaken understanding about the complaint numbers.