ICAC committee should be non-partisan

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Jamie_Parker_SMH_4Aug15_ICAC.jpgPublished August 4, 2015 - Sean Nicholls, SMH Political editor

Appointment of ICAC committee chair Damien Tudehope 'like putting fox in charge of the hen house'

Greens MP Jamie Parker, the party's anti-corruption spokesman, also criticised Mr Tudehope's appointment.

"The Premier [Mike Baird] has allowed this committee to be chaired by a member of the hard right faction with an axe to grind against the ICAC when he should be ensuring a genuine cross-party committee with an unambiguous commitment to fighting corruption," he said.

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Appointing a member of the Liberal Party's hard right faction as chair of a parliamentary committee overseeing the Independent Commission Against Corruption is "like putting a fox in charge of the hen house", Labor has claimed.

Damien Tudehope, who is the member for Epping, has been appointed chair of the ICAC oversight committee of the NSW Parliament.

Mr Tudehope is a member of the hard right faction of the NSW Liberals, whose ranks were devastated by last year's ICAC inquiry into political donations.

Allegations before the inquiry saw senior members of the faction, including former Terrigal MP Chris Hartcher and upper house MP Marie Ficarra, move to the crossbench and leave politics at the March election.

The oversight committee, which also has members from the Nationals, Labor and the Christian Democratic Party, is due to hold its first inquiry on Friday since being re-established by the new Parliament.

Among the witnesses to be called are ICAC commissioner Megan Latham, who presided over last year's inquiry into political donations.

Mr Tudehope has flagged that the committee might also question Ms Latham about ICAC's failed attempt to investigate deputy senior Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.

Following a challenge by Ms Cunneen, the High Court found ICAC did not have the power to investigate her over allegations she attempted to pervert the course of justice.

ICAC forwarded material it had gathered to the Director of Public Prosecutions, which has said it would not lay charges.

Shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch questioned the appropriateness of having Mr Tudehope chair the committee.

"Given the recent history between the hard right of the Liberal Party and the ICAC, one would think this is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house," he said.

"It is more than reasonable for the public to question the appropriateness and objectivity of anyone from that faction chairing a probe into the commission's work."

Greens MP Jamie Parker, the party's anti-corruption spokesman, also criticised Mr Tudehope's appointment.

"The Premier [Mike Baird] has allowed this committee to be chaired by a member of the hard right faction with an axe to grind against the ICAC when he should be ensuring a genuine cross-party committee with an unambiguous commitment to fighting corruption," he said.

But Mr Tudehope said the criticisms were drawing a long bow.

"There's no evidence that anyone has suggested I would be biased in that role," he said.

"I will bring to the role a position of impartiality and openness. I hope at the end of this process we have an ICAC which has the support and confidence of the public."

Information about parliament's ICAC Committee here


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