Independent Commission Against Corruption - ICAC

Prosecutions from ICAC and other corruption inquiries – Scorecard

Quite a few people try to down play the value of corruption inquiries and investigations as being nothing more than a waste of time and money and when you look at the past there is some evidence to support the argument that they are a waste. So let’s look at some of the facts and we’ll find that it paints a different picture especially when you factor in who and what’s now driving the corruption inquiries.

Times are changing fast as we probably have never before had as many inquiries and investigations into corruption happening at the one time. Federally we have one Royal Commission just finished, two Royal Commissions continuing their investigations and a Federal Senate inquiry into the Queensland government and numerous other corruption inquiries. Add that to state inquiries such as the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquires that have resulted in the resignation and/or standing down of 11 (at last count) current members of the state government and we are witnessing the probably the biggest focus on corruption this country has ever seen.

A spotlight on corruption is not enough

Having a spotlight on corruption is a good thing and by itself it helps reduce corruption. But we need to go one step further and have people held to account for corrupt and criminal conduct exposed at inquiries. This is the area that most of the critics jump on to argue that corruption inquiries are a waste of money as they say no one ends up being charged with crimes.

Independent Commission Against Corruption – ICAC

People are charged with crimes and do go to jail as the below figures show. There is also progress being made in the prosecution rates directly related to inquiries and the NSW Government are holding their own review titled “Prosecutions arising from Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations (Inquiry)” to look at ways to improve the investigation to prosecution ratio. (Click here to read more)

ICAC made their own submission to the NSW Government inquiry which reads in part:

“It is pertinent to note at the outset that a number of successful prosecutions have resulted from the Commission’s investigations.”

“As at 20 June 2014, the Commission stated that there were 22 people before courts in NSW as a result of referrals to the Director of Public Prosecutions (“the DPP”) from the ICAC. At that time, the Commission stated that in the last 30 months 35 people had pleaded guilty or been found guilty of charges arising from Commission investigations. Six of those people were sentenced to full-time imprisonment, five have been sentenced to imprisonment to be served by way of home detention, and eight have been sentenced to imprisonment but had the execution of that sentence suspended on condition they enter into a good behaviour bond.”

“Despite some media statements to the contrary, the Commission does not consider that there has been any loss of public confidence in its work as a result of a perceived lack of prosecutions arising out of Commission investigations. The public generally appreciates that the work of the Commission is focused on the investigation and exposure of corrupt practices and that the Commission’s public inquiries effectively achieve that purpose. Public inquiries also fulfil an educative purpose. These features of public inquiries are, in many respects, much more instrumental in addressing the causes and effects of corruption, and therefore contributing to its deterrence, than prosecution through the courts of offences that often fail to adequately represent the nature and scope of the relevant conduct.” (Click here to read more) (To see all the submissions click here)

So people have been charged, there are people in jail and there are many more likely to go to jail. I would suspect this would be a major improvement on what ICAC was achieving a few years ago. Although it must be noted the Director of Public Prosecutions is well over due to put some of the high-profile people and politicians named at ICAC behind bars.

Fitzgerald Inquiry which resulted in numerous criminal charges

The Fitzgerald Inquiry was the last inquiry that I can recall where there were a lot of criminal charges and the jailing of a number of politicians.

“The Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct (the Fitzgerald Inquiry) (1987–1989) into Queensland Police corruption was a judicial inquiry presided over by Tony Fitzgerald QC. The inquiry resulted in the deposition of a premier, two by-elections, the jailing of three former ministers and a police commissioner who was jailed and lost his knighthood.”

“Bjelke-Petersen himself was charged with perjury in respect of evidence given to the inquiry. The jury in the case remained deadlocked. In 1992 it was revealed that the jury foreman, Luke Shaw, was a member of the Young Nationals and was identified with the “Friends of Joh” movement. A special prosecutor announced in 1992 there would be no retrial because Sir Joh, then aged 81, was too old.” (Click here to read more)

If the former QLD Premier Bjelke-Petersen was charged with perjury then there is no reason why Lisa Zanatta who admitted to committing perjury at the Trade Union Royal Commission cannot be charged with perjury. But that is for Commissioner Dyson Heydon to recommend to the NSW or Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry was in effect a Royal Commission even though it did not have that name. It is a good reminder of what can happen if an inquiry is run properly.

Win, Lose or Draw – A lot of people have been exposed for who and what they are

One of the key functions of an organisation like ICAC is to shine a light on corruption and social media with its growing power acts in the same manner. And through social media shining the light on corruption anywhere and everywhere prosecutions will follow.

It is social media that is either directly and/or indirectly driving the corruption inquiries by putting pressure on politicians and the public servants who manage the inquiries ands also helping justify the inquiries in the first place. The people running ICAC for example know they either do the job they are meant to do which is investigating and exposing corruption or social media will do it for them.

The results from the various corruption inquiries are already starting to show and will do so even more over the next 6 to 12 months.

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8 replies »

  1. One can only hope that the I.C.A.C is above and beyond the reach of the criminal elements in Politics, Business and the Unions. There is a deferent need for stronger Legislation and Independence from the Powers of the Government.
    With out the Social Media and the citizens of this Great State acting as a watch dog, only the Lord would know what would have been the final out come in years to come.
    The Three Golden Rules of Life, are, Honesty, Loyalty, and Integrity. Remove one and what are the others worth. My Great Grandfather taught me those at a young age. He was an Italian immigrant and always worked in his building business on the hand shake of a man. He was also a Councillor in Warringa Shire and was disliked by a few of the others, because of his ability to see behind their motives at times. He taught that if a man wasn’t as good as his word, then what good was he? I think we have lost a great deal since those days.

    • Absolutely – times have certainly changed. What hope have we got when JG was already under suspicion when she was sacked and then she became PM – and she will squirm her way out of this. Corruption is rampant – and it starts at the top

  2. Can you imagine how far reaching corruption and illegal activity is in countries without any backstop. We can only hope that our various enquiries and commissions result in the guilty being prosecuted no matter how far up the tree they are. I just feel deep down that certain people have to date eluded their just fate. Ms Gillard and Bill Shorten spring to mind. Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne seems to think that because Ms Gillard says she didn’t do something then it must be true. How little we have heard from the ABC and the press generally about Bill Shorten’s rape allegations This is why we need independent enquiries. Our biased press, the ABC and the the accused have to be challenged.

  3. Only 11 more days till the mojo CEO of CBUS is back on the stand. Mr David Atkin has some serious problems and lack of sleep would not be the worst. Oh how confident he looked till Mr Stoljar passed the ball to Ms Heath.

  4. Talking of corruption, lets not forget that Bill Shorten was the High Adviser to both of Australia’s problems, Gillard and Rudd. It won’t be long before the rats turn on each other for survival.

  5. This is a very disappointing contribution Shane, with not much thinking behind it. Relaying ICAC’s desperate attempts to justiify its existence and drawing conclusions like “I would suspect this would be a major improvement on what ICAC was achieving a few years ago” which is very wrong. In fact, ICAC’s numbers are worse than ever because:
    * It has become complacent, abusive and ineffective after aggregating massively excessive powers over a succession of governments of both persuasions
    * It has allowed itself to become politically interfered with – perhaps the reason why it proceeded with a puzzling and suspect inquiry into Ryde
    * Its processes do not feature checks and balances so the public can be sure it is pursuing the cases it should be
    * Politicians consider it the ultimate tool of smear for attacking political opponents
    * There is inadequate oversight and limited ability to reform the organisation .
    * ICAC predetermines its outcomes and leaks its desired narrative to media outlets, ensuring the public witnesses what it would like it to see through an unfair and biased hearings process where inconvenient evidence is either concealed or ignored
    Despite all the sensational political donations headlines, this is the reality Shane and as the editor of a blog that trumpets its ability to expose abuses of the legal system in Australia, I would have expected you to be in hot pursuit of how ICAC’s processes are being abused for ulterior motives – and who the protagonists behind this are.
    The next big event that could deliver a battering for ICAC is a court challenge to the ridiculously trumped up corruption “findings” ICAC has made against former Ryde Mayor Ivan Petch for trivial misdemeanours on par with misappropriating a box of papercliips.
    Turns out that ICAC didn’t have any of its ducks in a row!
    So who was behind ICAC’s Ryde witch hunt? Was there external meddling or incompetence from within?
    If the mainstream media continue to routinely miss the opportunity to report on the elephant in the room – and your blog starts doing the same – I guess we’ll never find out.

  6. The ICAC has only really started to seriously do its job in the last couple of years. That is going after the big boys. It spent most of the previous years chasing down petty officials who rarely had political connections. Why has it taken so long to get its act together. Maybe it has seen the lights of a train heading straight for them..

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