Friday, 2 June 2017

We have an ICAC or an Independent

Commission Against Corruption  in this state - or do we?
The problem is that the legislation allows inquiries to be conducted in private. The present government never wanted an ICAC in this state. They always said it was not needed, that there were other ways of ensuring matters were dealt with. The legislation only passed reluctantly and only with the provision that ICAC inquiries would be held in private. The ICAC Commissioner has said his view is that, after the last inquiry, inquiries should be public not private. I wonder how long the Commissioner will last?
He's right. Inquiries into corruption need to be public. There may be some, a very few, aspects which need to be kept private. They would relate to things like the personal safety and well being of those giving evidence or the personal safety and well being of the victims. Privacy should not extend to politicians attempting to keep their jobs. 
My local member was voted in to serve the electorate as a member of one party. Two months later he declared himself an "independent" and took up a Ministry with the government instead. It is therefore scarcely surprising that he voted with the government to keep ICAC inquiries private. 
There has since been a redrawing of the electoral boundaries and, annoyingly, I am in a new electorate. I was looking forward to helping to vote my local member out of office and, hopefully, out of public life. 
His attitude towards ICAC, and the attitude of his colleagues who voted in support of the secrecy provision, is indicative of all that is wrong with government. I know that when you are a politician your chief concern is about staying in the job.
We have had just one politician in recent years who was better than that. It was a very sad day when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and, not long after, died. He was a real "independent". He would consult his electorate on the issues that concerned them and vote accordingly.
While he was never my elected member I talked to him on a number of occasions. The first time I met him someone had pointed me out as "the person who wrote the letter" (to the state newspaper) and he walked the length of the railway carriage and accosted me to ask about it. After that, if he was on the train, we would chat occasionally -  usually about something he was interested  in knowing more about. He would talk to other people too - no hiding behind a newspaper or documents for him.
I wonder how he would have voted over this need for ICAC to be open. My guess is that he would have voted for it. He had little time for failures to communicate.
The ICAC needs to be open or it won't be independent. It can't be. The government can simply fail to release any report. There are too many other reports that have failed to see the light of day. We know far too little.
The present problem relates to a mental health facility. It is one I know something about. What has been going on there needs to be made very public indeed. 
Which is precisely why the government wants us to know nothing. 

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