Fears government stalling over promised ICAC

By Eddie Tanago

ACT NOW! fears the government is deliberately delaying plans to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

This Friday, the 10th of November, will see the Prime Minister complete 100 days in office since his re-election, but he has failed to bring the ICAC legislation before Parliament.

This is despite promises from Justice Minister, Davis Stevens, in September, that establishing an ICAC was a priority for the government and all efforts were being made to make it a reality.

Last week the PM was questioned by political party executives about the timetable for the ICAC legislation and was very vague in his comments, suggesting it will ‘probably’ be March next year at the earliest. [1]

The issue of an ICAC has been dragging on for far too long and that raises questions about whether the draft bill has been tampered with to reduce the ICAC’s powers.

Public consultation on the ICAC legislation took place way back in 2013. The draft legislation currently available on the Dept of Justice website was gazetted in June 2015. But now it seems we will have to wait until at least March 2018 before that legislation goes before Parliament.

What is the reason for these inordinate delays?

Everyone should remind themselves of what the Prime Minister said way back in November 2011, on the anniversary of his first 100 days as Prime Minister:

“The setting up of an ICAC is something I have pushed since I was opposition leader in the last Parliament. The perpetrators of corruption are not just leaders or members of Parliament. They are everywhere… A law such as an ICAC will ensure that everyone is covered. It will ensure everyone is answerable… When we pass this law, we will have demonstrated our resolve not just to preaching about fighting corruption, but actually laying the foundation to help free up resources that are trapped in this evil, so our people can truly benefit from the gains of our nation”.[2]

If the Prime Minister’s performance is judged by this statement, then for six years he has failed his own test.

For as long as we do not have a fully funded and fully independent ICAC with full powers of arrest and prosecution, then the Prime Minister by his own words, is just 'preaching about fighting corruption' rather than doing anything concrete.

The victims of this corruption are the ordinary people who suffer from poorly funded health and education services and our appalling transport infrastructure. Successive governments, including, so far, the current one, have failed to lay the foundation to free up the resources that are trapped by the evil of corruption.

[1] Post Courier, November 2, 2017 ‘Guns, ICAC possible in next parlt sessions’.
[2] The National, November 10, 2011 ‘First task is fighting corruption head on’.