Tasmania's toothless watchdog
The Tasmanian Integrity Commission (Tasmanian IC) has major design flaws that render it far less effective than the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (NSW ICAC) in exposing systemic corruption.
The NSW ICAC makes more findings of corrupt conduct, refers more cases for prosecution, holds more public inquiries, and tackles systemic corruption cases of public significance. Over the observed period, 2012-2016, the NSW ICAC made corrupt conduct findings against 123 people, referred 76 people for prosecution, held 28 public inquiries, and investigated cases involving complex networks of corruption within the public sector.
The Tasmanian IC has never held a full inquiry using all of its investigative powers under the Integrity Tribunal meaning that it made no misconduct findings, held no public hearings, and only tackled cases involving one or two public sector employees. The Tasmanian IC has not held an investigation into the ongoing allegations of undue influence of the gambling industry on governance in Tasmania, and limitations on its jurisdiction mean that it is unlikely it would have been able to investigate the conduct of the Federal Group employees involved in allegations of bribery during the 1972 elections.
Differences in the design of each body impact their respective effectiveness, including the threshold to begin investigations, definition of corrupt conduct within the legislation and the conduct of public inquiries. NSW ICAC can begin investigations and inquiries using its full powers at the discretion of the Commissioner.
The Tasmanian IC has to conduct a long process of assessments, reports, minor investigations and reports to the Board before it can begin a full inquiry. The requirement that complaints be made in writing in an approved form means that had the NSW ICAC investigation into Eddie Obeid occurred in Tasmania it would not have ever got started, as this began with an anonymous phone call. As the Tasmanian IC has to date not held a full inquiry under the Integrity Tribunal, it seems clear that this process is not effective.
The Tasmanian IC also has restrictions on its jurisdiction that mean it can only investigate public officers, and is limited in investigating parliamentarians. It does not have the jurisdiction to investigate matters involving proceedings in Parliament, meaning it could not have investigated allegations that Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma misled Parliament in relation to the safety of children under the care of Safe Pathways.
The report compares the legislative design of each body as well as their respective effectiveness in exposing systemic corruption.