Opinion: Dick Appleby
As 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 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.
It 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.
It 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.
This 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!
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