Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Independent Commission Against Corruption

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (14:41): My question is to the Attorney-General:

1. Does he agree with the brutal assessment of barrister Michael Abbott KC about the inspector's report on radio today, saying there should be a requirement for ICAC to apologise and make compensation to persons affected by failed investigations?

2. How many ICAC staff involved in the investigation are still employed by ICAC and was the head of investigations, Mr Baker, removed or did he resign of his own volition?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:42): I thank the honourable member for his question. In relation to ICAC staff, the answer is that I don't know. In a statutory authority like the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption's office, that is entirely a matter for that office in terms of staffing and who they employ. In terms of an individual resigning or how employment was ended, that is not a matter I have knowledge of and it's not a matter that I am responsible for. It is very proper and deliberate that a statutory authority such as ICAC deals with these matters themselves.

In relation to things that have occurred by the ICAC in terms of investigations and the effect that it has on people they are investigating, they were part of the reforms that this parliament unanimously, I think in both chambers, passed to provide the ability for recommendations to be made by the inspector looking at matters such as these in relation to whether there has been undue prejudice towards a particular person. I know that was considered in the particular case of the report that was handed down yesterday and the inspector considered whether any prejudice was undue and involved the consideration about whether the prejudice was unwarranted or inappropriate having regard to the nature of the investigation.

It also required him to be satisfied that a particular exercise of power and performance and function of ICAC can be considered a cause of that undue prejudice. The inspector found in his report that the prejudice caused by the ICAC investigations into the two matters that were referred to in the report were the result of public scrutiny, which was the natural product in the investigations that were reasonable and appropriate.