Has The High Court Killed ICAC?



Opinion: Dick Appleby

Canneen 2As a person who has taken a keen interest in the ICAC proceedings throughout 2014 – 15, attended one of the public hearings in Sydney, taken the time to read a lot of the transcripts and exhibits and even made the odd submission, I am truly sickened and disgusted by the recent High Court Decision which it seems will have far reaching consequences for past and future Inquiries of the Commission.


The High Court of Australia in CanberraThe Commission, whilst not able to prosecute in its own right, and not bound by some of the constraints on the level of evidence required in conventional court cases, had the powers required and was extremely successful in rooting out corruption and exposing it to a stunned public.


icac-inquiry-into-mcgurks-death-after-nsw-dataIt has obviously been a victim of its own success. Watching rich businessmen and politicians looking very uncomfortable having to face direct questioning in public, not being able to hide as usual behind their very expensive briefs, (that ordinary people cannot afford), was very heartening. The Commission has been accused of acting like a Star Chamber , maybe it did to a degree, but it is now obvious that it was more effective than anything else that has been tried in the past.


BaumanIt was just too good, the first thing the Cunneen case did was put everything on hold until the NSW election was over, that was convenient! Now the High Court has taken a very narrow view on a technical legal interpretation of what the definition of corruption actually means. That has overturned the whole  premise that the Commission has been operating under since it was established by Nick Griener in 1988.


ObeadThis has created a lawyers picnic, allowing anybody named in past operations and some ongoing ones to challenge those decisions in court, (if they can afford it), and guess what, most of them can!! This could be remedied immediately by a few small changes in the legislation to reinstate this power to the Commission retrospectively by our politicians. Was it not doing what was intended or was there a small legal glitch in the legislation that nobody knew was there for 27 years? Over to you Mr Baird and Mr Foley……… but being a bit of a cynic I am not holding my breath!

From The Sydney Morning Herald:
Sydney Morning Herald 23 April 2015: ICAC Findings Overturned
From The AFR Weekend
AFR 23 April 2015: ICAC Drops Corruption Case
From Newcastle Herald

Newcastle Herald May 05 2015: Baird’s Plan To Bolster ICAC’s Past Findings

Newcastle Herald May 06 2015:Bipartisan Support For ICAC ‘Validation Bill’

Newcastle Herald 07 May: Kate Washington Thanks ICAC in Maiden Speech

ABC The Drum 8 May 2015: Good On Mike Baird For Cleaning Up The ICAC Mess

Newcastle Heard 09 May 2015: Ex MPs To Face Supreme Court

Lewis Cartoon













This entry was posted in 2014, 2015, 2016, HOT ISSUES, I.C.A.C. Investigations, Litagation, STATE GOVERNMENT, What The Papers Said! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Has The High Court Killed ICAC?

  1. Nigel Waters says:

    Let’s hope the pessimists are wrong and the technical legal basis for ICAC losing the Cunneen case does not prevent ICAC from at least reporting on the abuses it uncovered in the Hunter Region.
    But the legislation clearly needs fixing, and The Greens in the NSW Parliament will be bringing forward amendments to do so. We will then find out how serious the old parties are about maintaining ICAC as an effective means of holding our politicians, and their mates, to account.

  2. Could not agree with you more Dick.

    We can only hope that the Eyes of Truth (ICAC using transparency) will eventually be backed up by Gandalf (police) and blast the Sauron darkness back to where it belongs. One has to remember that paper bags rot, where as truth endures.

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