NSWCCL made a submission to the NSW's Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption regarding the Review of aspects of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.
The risk of corruption is deeply concerning because, if not effectively checked, it threatens our democratic values and processes – including the rights and liberties of free and equal persons. This is why we support a strong and effective ICAC, appropriately constrained by safeguards for individual liberties and rights that are compatible with operational effectiveness.
NSWCCL strongly opposes introducing legislated time standards on the ICAC to finalise reports. Delays in ICAC reporting should be addressed by increasing ICAC's funding and resources, not by imposing arbitrary deadlines on the ICAC.
NSWCCL considers the existing mechanisms of judicial review to be effective and appropriate. We see no obvious benefit in codifying or expanding upon the existing grounds of review as developed in case law, particularly in circumstances where procedural guidelines published in 2018 already provide a good level of transparency regarding the procedural fairness obligations ICAC officers and counsel assisting owe to affected persons in public inquiries.
NSWCCL considers the Inspector's current role and powers under the Act are adequate and appropriate. The investigatory and audit functions of the Inspector, along with the Inspector’s decisional freedom and independence, make the Inspector a strong and important soft accountability mechanism over the ICAC.
In respect of this specific Inquiry, NSWCCL is not aware of any pressing need to change aspects of the Act. In respect of each of the Terms of Reference, we consider the Act in its current form is appropriate and effective. In our view, the perceived issues surrounding ICAC can be resolved through better resourcing and oversight by parliament, rather than through legislative reform.
Our full submission will be available when released to the public.