Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022



Independent Commission Against Corruption Investigations

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. F. Pangallo:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into and report on—

(a) any damage, harm, or adverse outcomes to any party/ies resulting from investigations undertaken pursuant to the ICAC Act (other than adverse findings resulting from the conduct of persons investigated);

(b) any damage, harm or adverse outcomes to any party/ies resulting from prosecutions which follow investigations undertaken pursuant to the ICAC Act (other than adverse findings resulting from the conduct of persons prosecuted);

(c) options that may prevent or reduce the likelihood of, or any harm or damage resulting from, such outcomes and whether exoneration protocols need to be developed; and

(d) any other related matter; however, the committee shall not receive submissions or evidence in relation to any current investigation, or current prosecution arising from such an investigation, or any matter that is currently the subject of referral by the ICAC for further investigation and potential prosecution.

2. That the committee consist of six members and that the quorum of members necessary to be present at all meetings of the committee be fixed at four members.

3. That the minutes of evidence presented to the select committee of the Fifty-Fourth Parliament on damage, harm or adverse outcomes resulting from ICAC investigations, tabled in the council on 30 November 2021, together with minutes of evidence received in camera and documents received by that committee but not tabled nor resolved to be published, be referred to this select committee.

4. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

(Continued from 16 November 2022.)

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (12:41): I rise on behalf of the government to make some brief remarks on this motion that seeks to re-establish the Select Committee on Damage, Harm or Adverse Outcomes Resulting from ICAC Investigations. I indicate that the government will not oppose the re-establishment of this committee, which operated during the previous parliament.

As Labor members indicated at the time of establishing the original select committee, the Hon. Frank Pangallo has highlighted a number of matters which deserve consideration. We acknowledge the work of this committee in the past and particularly note that this motion would refer its minutes and documents to the re-established committee. On that basis, the government does not oppose this motion to re-establish the committee.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (12:42): I rise today as the lead speaker for the opposition on the motion from the Hon. Frank Pangallo and note the opposition's support for the motion. The decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop its case against former Renewal SA boss John Hanlon has once again placed a blowtorch on the transparency, integrity and power of ICAC.

This motion, if successful, will examine damage, harm or adverse outcomes to any party resulting from investigations undertaken pursuant to the ICAC Act and any prosecutions which follow those investigations.

ICAC has now been operating for almost a decade and is charged with responsibility to investigate and prevent corruption in South Australian public administration. The prevention, minimising and prosecution of corruption are critical functions to ensuring government agencies and officials adopt practices, policies and behaviours commensurate with public expectation and in the public interest. But it is an agency with enormous power—some may say absolute power.

The treatment of Mr Hanlon is not the first example to raise concerns about the conduct and standard of investigations by ICAC. This raises an important question: who holds ICAC to account for matters from poor performance and incompetence right through to potential corruption? No-one, no business, no organisation is infallible. Mistakes are made, but no-one should be untouchable for those mistakes. There should always be an opportunity to hold them to account.

ICAC should be transparent, it should be fair, and it should be accountable. Given recent matters that have been ventilated by the Hon. Frank Pangallo in this chamber, the opposition considers that they deserve a proper and thorough investigation. But I will caution that there are always two sides to every story.

I hope the select committee will provide all parties with an opportunity to put forward their positions and it is not solely used as a vehicle for aggrieved parties to ventilate their concerns. It is important that we ensure a purposeful investigation and debate with the goal of tangible and sensible reforms that benefit the investigation and prevention of corruption in South Australian public administration.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (12:44): I thank the Hon. Nicola Centofanti for her contribution to this, and I am looking forward to the reconvening of this committee.

Motion carried.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (12:45): I move:

That the select committee consist of the Hon. Tammy Franks, the Hon. Russell Wortley, the Hon. Reggie Martin, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Hon. Heidi Girolamo and the mover.

Motion carried.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I move:

That the select committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place and to report on the next Wednesday of sitting.

Motion carried.