Legislative Council: Thursday, February 08, 2024


Independent Commission Against Corruption Investigation

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (14:31): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General about the ICAC investigation into John Hanlon.

Leave granted.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: Today's Advertiser carries a story about ICAC's secret surveillance tapes, made during the bugging of the office of former Renewal SA boss John Hanlon. No secret: they were in the inspector's report tabled last year. The conversations published appear to be another attempt by ICAC, the DPP or the Attorney-General's Department to further smear Mr Hanlon and his former senior colleague Georgina Vasilevski and derail mediation, which is about to start in a civil action by Mr Hanlon. No mention is made anywhere in the article of the most damning findings by the inspector of institutional maladministration by ICAC while he conveniently absolved individuals responsible for the botched investigation.

Only in the last lines is it mentioned that neither Mr Hanlon nor Ms Vasilevski were convicted of any offence and entitled to the presumption of innocence. Neither a court, the inspector nor ICAC have ever seen Mr Hanlon's substantive defence to the charges levelled against him—only the DPP, and when they were viewed they folded. In an obvious plea deal to get something from nothing, former Renewal SA worker Stephanie Hardy pleaded guilty to unlawfully disclosing the ICAC investigation to Mr Hanlon and Ms Vasilevski, which was also caught on the secret surveillance tapes. She was not convicted. She walked away with a $1,000 fine.

So, after a costly exercise leaving ICAC humiliated and facing civil damages, not one person has been or will be convicted of anything. Compare this to a similar matter of Mr Nick Fletcher, a pensioner in the South-East, publishing information about an investigation in an obscure blog in 2013. The definition of 'publish' was so broad that, when Mr Fletcher tried to get clarification, the government of the day instead moved to quickly fix it in 2014, capturing Mr Fletcher's offending retrospectively. No mercy was shown to Mr Fletcher, nor a plea deal. He was convicted and the fine was $500,000—500 times that handed to Ms Hardy, with no conviction. My questions to the Attorney are:

1. Can the Attorney explain the chasm between these two offences, and was he aware of the plea deal?

2. Can he assure the chamber that the timing of the story as mediation begins wasn't the result of tip-offs from either his department, the DPP or ICAC?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:34): I thank the honourable member for his question. In relation to a sentence or a fine imposed by a court, as I have answered questions from the opposition before, it is, as it should be, properly a matter for a court.

If a sentence is thought by the prosecuting authority, whether it be the police or the DPP, to be too lenient, there is usually an option to appeal the sentence that is given in a court. If a defendant considers a sentence or a fine manifestly excessive, there is always the possibility that can be appealed in a court as well. I have not taken the habit—and I am not going to start the habit today, I am afraid, Hon. Mr Pangallo—of commenting on why a court imposes a fine within the bounds of what we set down in parliament.

In relation to the honourable member's second part of the question that relates to a story in The Advertiser, I have seen the headlines. I have not read the story myself. I have had no suggestion that anywhere from government had anything to do with the publication of a story at all. The headline is all that I know about that story. I am not aware of any suggestion, apart from what has been raised today in parliament, that there was anything from government that had anything to do with any story in any media right now about the Hanlon case.