Pederick breaks silence on ICAC investigation

The Murraylands' state MP has denied abusing his parliamentary privilege or doing anything illegal.

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Three state MPs, including Adrian Pederick, have denied resisting an ICAC investigation in an explosive public statement.

The MPs in the spotlight over the country members’ accommodation allowance affair – Mr Pederick, pictured, Terry Stephens and Fraser Ellis – said they had cooperated with all “lawful” requests from the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

But the ICAC did not have authority to look at MPs’ diaries and meeting notes, they argued.

Only a parliamentary vote – not possible until at least Tuesday – could give it that authority.

“It is extremely important that constituents are free to contact members of parliament and their staff in the knowledge that their disclosures and conversations will be treated confidentially,” the MPs said.

“That is a vital function of members of parliament and enables all of us to carry out our parliamentary duties appropriately.”

They described it as “surprising and disappointing” that the inquiry had featured so prominently in the media when ICAC investigations were supposed to be carried out in private.

They would not make any further comment until the investigation ended, they said.

“We each vehemently deny any allegations of criminality,” the MPs said.

“We will fully cooperate with any lawful requests, as the public rightly expects us to do.

“Most of all, we look forward to clearing our names and putting the stress and distress of this investigation behind us.”

New commissioner will decide whether to keep investigating

The joint statement came just three days after the retirement of former Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander, pictured, who had started the investigation.

It also followed sustained pressure from the state opposition, which had called on Premier Steven Marshall to instruct his MPs to cooperate.

“Steven Marshall is effectively in the position to decide whether this criminal investigation into his own MPs proceeds or doesn’t proceed,” Labor MP Susan Close said on Wednesday.

“It would be utterly unprecedented for the Premier to defy ICAC’s wishes and deliberately shut down this investigation.”

In one of his final public statements, Commissioner Lander had criticised the MPs’ decision to refuse to hand over documents or submit to interviews by claiming parliamentary privilege, a special legal status.

It would be up to his successor, Ann Vanstone, to decide whether to continue the investigation, he said.

Mr Pederick resigned from his role as parliamentary whip on July 30 after it was revealed he had changed his claims to the accommodation allowance eight years after the fact.

He had previously claimed to have stayed in Adelaide for work on Christmas Day in 2011 and 2012.

Photos: Peri Strathearn (top), Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (bottom).

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