Baird must stand by ICAC powers



JParker_anti-corruption_SMH_27Oct15.pngPublished October 27, 2015 - Sean Nicholls, SMH State Political Editor

The NSW Greens have blasted a proposed inquiry into the Independent Commission Against Corruption's power to put surprise evidence to witnesses during public hearings as a "blatant attempt" to curb its effectiveness.

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The chairman of the parliamentary oversight committee, Liberal MP Damien Tudehope, has backed an inquiry into procedural fairness for witnesses before ICAC as "worthwhile" and "something the community would embrace."

Unlike in a criminal court, ICAC is able to introduce new evidence during a public hearing, upon which witnesses may be questioned, without them or their legal representative having access to it beforehand.

The tactic - often resulting in "gotcha" moments in the witness box - was the subject of complaints by barristers for witnesses involved in the recent inquiry into Liberal party fundraising before the 2011 state election.

Mr Tudehope said ICAC's ability to make findings of corrupt conduct against witnesses meant an examination of this aspect of its operations is warranted.

But Greens MP Jamie Parker criticised the push just weeks after a review of ICAC's powers by former chief justice of Australia Murray Gleeson and senior barrister Bruce McClintock, commissioned by Premier Mike Baird.

Mr Parker said that the review noted that unlike criminal trials, ICAC "is not bound by the rules of evidence" and did not recommend any legislative change to that aspect of its operations.

"If the Premier has any credibility he should back his own independent panel and stop impeding the important work of the ICAC with yet another inquiry," Mr Parker said.

"Mr Baird needs to stand against these moves to publicly discredit ICAC and strip it of critical corruption fighting powers".

Read Jamie Parker's media release
Read more on Jamie Parker's record on anti-corruption


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