Calls for stronger, weaker anti-corruption commissions

Stephen Charles QC has called for a tougher anti-corruption body in Victoria, complaining that “the legislative definition of ‘corrupt conduct’ is extremely narrow, it does not include misconduct in public office, and the [Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission] needs far greater power to initiate investigation”. He said the government failed to deliver on its election promise to model IBAC on the NSW equivalent, which has uncovered serious corruption. However, others complain that the NSW body is like the notorious Star Chamber; Peter van Onselen says it “can compel people to give evidence, use second-hand hearsay, bug phones at will, ask questions without context, make claims without consequence and deny those interviewed legal representation. It … has greater inquisitorial and discovery powers than any police force… ICAC hearings are akin to legal bullying.” He is concerned that ICAC is “above the very rule of law it is designed to uphold.”