The Parliamentary Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption (‘ICAC’) has released their report on protections for people who come forward to expose corruption in NSW.
As the Committee stated:
‘This Inquiry followed the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment (Disclosure of Information) Bill 2016 by Mr Jamie Parker MP. Mr Parker’s bill proposed amendments to the law to better protect people from criminal, civil or disciplinary liability if they voluntarily disclose information to the ICAC for the purposes of the ICAC’s functions.
The object of the bill was to protect persons who lodge complaints about corrupt conduct with the ICAC, or who otherwise voluntarily give statements or documents to the ICAC, from any criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result. This included liability for defamation or breach of confidentiality and the taking of disciplinary action by an employer.’
The Committee made 10 recommendations, including:
- The current protections for people who make disclosures to the ICAC are too narrow and unclear in their application. There should be increased legislated protections in this area.
- There is significant public interest in increasing the protections for people who make voluntary disclosures to the ICAC.
Jamie Parker MP said:
“The current ICAC Act only gives limited protection to people who provide information to the Commission. This protection does not apply where a person voluntarily discloses information to the Commission about corrupt conduct that the ICAC is not currently investigating.
My bill provided legislative protection for the voluntary provision of information, which is currently the case in other jurisdictions including disclosures brought to Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.
I welcome the findings of the committee, which has taken up the content of my Bill. It’s now up to the Attorney General to make these recommendations law at the earliest possible opportunity.
This government must amend the law to make sure that people who expose corruption do not face disciplinary action, criminal prosecution or civil prosecution.
Every day that goes by without these legal protections exposes people who report corruption to unacceptable personal and professional risks.
The strength of our political system often depends on the integrity of individuals who are prepared to take a stand and do the right thing.
Enhancing protection both to public officials and private citizens who make disclosures on corruption issues is a common sense step, as the Committee has found.
If the government is serious about supporting the fight against corruption, they will move to enshrine these much needed protections into law as soon as possible.
We need to give the community confidence that they can disclose information to the ICAC without risking their jobs or their personal lives.”
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