All past corruption findings by the Independent Commission Against Corruption will be validated by urgent legislation as part of the Government’s response to the decision of the High Court in ICAC v Cunneen, NSW Premier Mike Baird announced today.
“We will not tolerate corruption in this State, end of story,” Mr Baird said. “All previous findings of corruption by ICAC should, and will, stand — and we will introduce a Bill to that effect immediately.
“While the High Court’s recent decision raises important questions about the ICAC’s jurisdiction for the future, it should not provide those who have done the wrong thing in the past with a loophole. We need a strong ICAC, and we will have one.”
In addition to confirming past ICAC findings, the Government will commission an immediate review to consider the High Court’s decision, and to make recommendations regarding the appropriate scope for ICAC’s jurisdiction going forward.
Mr Baird announced a distinguished legal panel will review ICAC’s powers and report back to the Government by10 July 2015, so that a second Bill, if deemed necessary, can be introduced later this year.
The independent panel of experts will be chaired by the former Chief Justice of the High Court, the Hon Murray Gleeson AC QC, and will include Mr Bruce McClintock SC, who conducted a review of the ICAC Act in 2005.
The review (terms of reference attached) will consider:
- The appropriate scope for ICAC’s jurisdiction;
- Any legislative measures necessary to provide ICAC with the powers it needs to expose serious and/or systemic corruption; and
- Whether any limits or enhancements should be applied to those powers.
Among other consultations, the review will consider a report by the Inspector of ICAC that will include: an assessment of ICAC’s exercise of jurisdiction in relevant past and current investigations; whether ICAC’s powers are consistent with justice and fairness; and the extent to which ICAC’s investigations have led to prosecutions and convictions.
Past actions by ICAC in its current investigations will also be validated by the proposed legislation. It will then be a matter for ICAC to decide whether to proceed to complete those investigations under its current jurisdiction (as determined by the High Court) or to delay those investigations until the review is completed.