Legislative Council: Thursday, December 01, 2022


Appointment of Inspector Under the ICAC Act

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:20): I seek leave to make a ministerial statement.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: This morning, on the government's recommendation, Her Excellency the Governor's Deputy appointed Philip Strickland SC, a pre-eminent barrister from New South Wales, as the first inspector under the Independent Commission against Corruption Act 2012. This appointment is in accordance with the recommendation of the Statutory Officers Committee of this parliament.

In 2021, parliament passed a range of amendments to legislation regulating governance and integrity in this state. The vast majority of these amendments came into effect in October last year. Commencement of a new schedule to establish the Office of the Inspector was deferred. I can today advise the chamber that this schedule, and thereby the Office of the Inspector, will commence on Monday 5 December 2022.

The importance of the commencement of these amendments and the appointment of the first inspector cannot be overstated. Members will be aware of the widespread coverage and debate regarding the investigation and prosecution of Mr John Hanlon, a former chief executive of Renewal SA. The appointment of the first inspector will allow me, as Attorney-General, to request that the inspector conduct a review of this matter.

Since 2017, there has been a reviewer appointed under the ICAC Act. That statutory officer has been able to receive complaints about the ICAC and the Office of Public Integrity and was empowered to conduct regular examinations of the exercise of their powers.

The role of reviewer has now been replaced by inspector. I would like to thank the Hon. John Sulan KC for his diligent and thoughtful service as the reviewer. The inspector will have greater powers than those available to his predecessor, including the power to summons witnesses to appear before an examination and to require the production of documents.

The functions of the inspector include the conducting of reviews relating to relevant complaints made under the ICAC Act and the Ombudsman Act, reviews requested by the Attorney-General and other inquiries as required under different acts.

The amendments will commence on 5 December 2022. The inspector will commence his appointment on the same day. I intend to immediately thereafter write to the inspector and request that he conduct a review of the investigation of Mr Hanlon.

The inspector and his office will also, necessarily, commence the ordinary business of the role; for example, the review of relevant complaints under the ICAC Act and the supervisory functions of ICAC's powers exercised under various other acts.

The inaugural inspector is ideally suited to the role. Mr Strickland SC has worked as a barrister for more than 30 years, primarily in New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Mr Strickland has extensive experience in criminal law and in the regulation of public officers and authorities. I have no doubt he will bring an impartial and thoughtful approach to this role.