NSW Greens anti-corruption spokesperson Jamie Parker has called on the government back proposals by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for increased and independent funding.
This follows an unprecedented warning from the ICAC chief commissioner Peter Hall at a hearing of the Parliamentary Committee for the ICAC yesterday that funding cuts will have an immediate and serious impact on the body’s ability to function.
The ICAC has been advised to expect funding of $24.814 million for the FY 20/21 which is a $673,000 cut compared to the FY 19/20 appropriation. The ICAC has warned the government that this allocation is $3.943 million less than it requires to “maintain the tempo of its operations”.
Last week the Greens won an inquiry into funding for oversight bodies with a view to enhancing the process for determining the quantum of funding of a range of independent oversight bodies including the ICAC.
Jamie Parker sits on the Parliamentary Committee for the ICAC.
Jamie Parker MP says:
“The refusal of the Department of Premier and Cabinet to approve the funding that ICAC so desperately needs will have a direct impact on their corruption fighting capacity.
“While it may serve some in government to see the capacity of the ICAC curtailed, the public expects that our corruption fighting agency should have all the resources it needs.
“These cuts threaten to turn the ICAC into a toothless tiger.
“There is no point in introducing new anti-corruption laws at the same time as you hollow out and starve the agencies responsible for enforcing them.
“Under the current system the ICAC has to go to the Department of Premier and Cabinet, cap in hand, and beg for more money to investigate the government. That is a clear conflict of interest.
“I’m calling for ICAC’s budget to be fully funded and for that budget to be controlled completely independent of the government of the day.
“Funding to the ICAC has been falling meanwhile referral numbers are climbing and their investigations are becoming more complex.
“We need a strong, well and independently funded ICAC to thoroughly investigate the political corruption that is rife within the old parties,” he says.