Saturday, April 20, 2024

NSW Govt acts on anti-corruption reforms

The NSW Government is set to introduce reforms aimed at restoring public trust and improving public integrity, transparency, and accountability.

The reform package will include amendments to the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 to make it a legislative requirement for the Government to respond to recommendations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) directed to the Government.

“There is no place for corrupt conduct in our Parliament and these reforms ensure every MP knows the rules and is held to the highest standard,” said Special Minister of State, John Graham.

“We will continue to back in our independent integrity agencies and be unapologetic about responding decisively to their recommendations for the good of our state.”

The NSW Government is also moving to address recommendations made by the ICAC in Operation Witney and Operation Keppel.

Operation Witney was an investigation into the former Member for Drummoyne, John Sidoti, and allegations concerning improper influence and breach of public trust.

In response to the investigation’s findings, a draft regulation will be tabled in Parliament proposing to:

  • expand the interests required to be disclosed by Members of Parliament;
  • require Members to disclose new matters including conflicts of interest;
  • require all Members to make disclosures on an ongoing basis instead of periodically, for publication on the NSW Parliament website.

The draft regulation, if made, will implement recommendations 1 and 4 of the Operation Witney report and bring NSW into line with the disclosure obligations in other Australian jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth. The Government intends to introduce the proposed changes on 1 July 2024 after consultation with relevant Parliamentary Committees.

In response to Operation Keppel, which concerned the former Member for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire, Premier Chris Minns (pictured) said the Government will amend the preamble to the NSW Ministerial Code of Conduct to include principles and guiding values recommended by the ICAC.

“Restoring trust in government is of the highest priority and we’re pleased to build on our integrity reform agenda,” said Mr Minns.

“It’s critical that our expectations of every minister and every member is made clear.

“The people of NSW need to have faith that politicians and elected officials are acting in the public interest. That faith is central to a working and healthy democracy,” he said.

Further reforms include guidelines for the preparation and funding of business cases in respect of grant applications by non-government entities, and boosting education programs to ensure Ministers are aware of their integrity obligations.

The package of reforms reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the highest standards of integrity. This builds upon recent announcements including a ban on political parties accepting donations from clubs which have gaming machines and the tightening of government grant regulations.

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