LABOR UNVEILS PLAN TO STRENGTHEN ICAC

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NSW Labor would give Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) Commissioners the same level of protection against political interference as judges. 

A Foley Labor Government would change the NSW Constitution to put ICAC Commissioners on the same legal footing as the judiciary. 

Commissioners could be removed only if they are proven to be incapable of doing their job or have misbehaved, and if Parliament has received a recommendation from the independent statutory watchdog of the judiciary, the Judicial Commission.

Labor’s amendments would give Commissioners greater confidence to investigate corruption wherever they find it, including within the ranks of the ruling party of NSW government.

It comes just weeks after the Baird Government used the ruse of a restructure of the ICAC to force the current ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham out of her job because she had the temerity to investigate donations to the Liberal Party in the lead-up to the 2011 state election. 

Labor wants to see a strong and independent ICAC that can do its job. To that end Labor has also committed to restore its funding to the level before the Baird Government cut a quarter or $7 million from its budget in June.

Labor says that the Chief Commissioner should also have veto rights over the appointment of two other part-time commissioners, bringing ICAC into line with the model of the new Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).  Labor would also ensure that there was a presumption in favour of public hearings, rather than a “behind closed doors” process.

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“We need a robust and independent ICAC that can keep Macquarie Street and politicians honest, one that can fight corruption without fear of retribution.

“Mike Baird’s sacking of the current Commissioner has sent a warning shot to all corruption fighters in NSW – investigate the ruling party at your peril.

“The people of NSW must have confidence that their corruption watchdog has the teeth, independence and resources to do the job of keeping the bastards honest.

“Under Mike Baird’s current plan ICAC can no longer act without fear or favour.”

“When it comes to corruption, sunlight is the best disinfectant. That’s why Labor will always support public hearings of ICAC.”