ICAC needs the financial ability to do its job
21st October 2020
There’s been a lot going on in the ICAC lately, and a lot of talk about how it and other integrity agencies are funded (agencies such as the NSW Electoral Commission, the NSW Ombudsman and the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission).
Along with my Independent colleagues, we take matters like these seriously because they are essential agencies, especially the ICAC, and their annual funding shouldn’t be determined by going cap-in-hand to the Government each year and hoping for a good outcome. They need a guaranteed funding allocation each year so they have certainty and can get on with doing their jobs.
We’ve taken that issue up with Premier Gladys Berejiklian today.
The people of NSW need an ICAC and other watchdogs to ensure integrity in the State’s administration, and they need one that is properly and independently funded.
Here's a copy of the letter we've sent to the Premier:
The Audit Office of NSW yesterday presented its report titled “The effectiveness of the financial arrangements and management practices in four integrity agencies” which had been requested by the Hon. Don Harwin, Special Minister for State in November last year.
The report looked at financial arrangements for - the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC), the NSW Ombudsman (NSWO) and the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).
While the report is comprehensive and warrants consideration in its entirety, the first sentence in the conclusion is unambiguous and compelling. That is,
“The current approach to determining annual funding for the integrity agencies presents threats to their independent status.”
That one sentence succinctly sets the challenge for your government to address what should have been the situation for funding such organisations as part of their establishment.
If nothing else, the general public could perceive that the lack of independence and surety of funding for such bodies poses an implied threat or risk to funding of the agencies.
Most notably this perception would be in relation to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the body which most directly interacts with the political process including possibly members of the Executive Government.
Removing any doubt about the Government’s commitment to the important role of the ICAC and other oversight agencies would be in the interest of not just those bodies but also for ensuring public confidence in their work.
We request that this be addressed by changing the funding arrangements to allow for guaranteed recurrent budgets with suitable indexation to allow for actual and perceived independence from the vagaries of political considerations.
Greg Piper, MP Alex Greenwich, MP Dr Joe McGirr, MP
Member for Lake Macquarie Member for Sydney Member for Wagga Wagga