Stripping ICAC’s powers will deliver ‘good result for everyone’: MP Adrian Pederick
The Member for Hammond has defended a controversial change which passed through South Australia's Parliament unopposed last week.
This story was originally published behind Murray Bridge News’ paywall. Paywalled stories are unlocked four weeks after publication. Can’t wait that long? Subscribe here.
Stripping powers from South Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption will deliver “a good result for everyone”, state MP Adrian Pederick says.
Last Thursday, SA’s parliamentarians voted unanimously to take away the ICAC’s power to investigate maladministration and misconduct.
Those powers will instead be passed to the state Ombudsman.
The ICAC will now exist only to investigate straight-up corruption.
Mr Pederick – who was himself investigated and cleared by ICAC last year – argued that the stigma and secrecy around the agency had destroyed people’s lives.
“I’ve had people sit in my office for an hour and a half with harrowing stories of what they’ve been through,” he said.
In one case, a high-ranking police officer, Doug Barr, took his own life while he was the subject of an ICAC investigation in 2019.
Mr Barr was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
Mr Pederick said crooked public servants, police officers or politicians would still be found out under the new arrangements, he said – just by different agencies.
Politicians would still be judged by voters at elections every four years.
Why could the ICAC not be made more transparent instead, like the Liberal Party promised prior to the last election?
Mr Pederick said ICAC had always produced poor results.
“This organisation has spent tens of millions of dollars and I can’t name a conviction (it has secured),” he said.
“We fund this group, I think it’s $16 million a year, and they always say they don’t have enough funding.
“The whole thing is a (house) of legal cards and we’ve just seen it fall down.”
SA’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act prohibits the media from reporting on ICAC investigations without the commissioner’s express permission.
Even hinting at the identity of a person who has been investigated by ICAC, who has reported a matter to ICAC, or who may become involved with ICAC in future, can attract a fine of up to $150,000.