Is Tasmania’s Integrity Commission fit for purpose? – Tasmanian Labor Responds

Rebecca White, ALP Leader & Ella Haddad, Shadow Attorney-General

Integrity Commission Act 2009 – Legislative Reform Discussion Paper – Comments for CPSU

Tasmanian Labor has been concerned for a long time about whether the Integrity Commission is able to effectively do its vital duty of investigating complaints about public sector misconduct and upholding and improving the standard of conduct and ethics in public authorities in Tasmania.

Labor is also on the record with concerns about the Liberals’ neglect of integrity in government, demonstrated by the fact they have implemented only six of the fifty-five recommendations of the 2016 Cox Review of the Integrity Commission. It is totally unacceptable that the government pushed the ‘go slow’ on this important work.

The truth is, the Tasmanian Integrity Commission has some of the weakest powers of integrity bodies in the country, and receives the second lowest funding of all its counterparts.

Labor believes the Commission’s work is hamstrung by under-funding and narrow jurisdiction. This is demonstrated by the fact they complete fewer than ten per cent of investigations compared to other jurisdictions.

The Legislative Reform Discussion Paper shows that of the Cox Review recommendations accepted by the Government, thirteen have been identified for priority implementation, but a further five were rejected despite one of those identified as high priority.

Further, Labor believes it is vital that the Act apply to members of parliament including sitting members during election campaigns. The Liberal government has been able to abuse public resources and avoid scrutiny or liability, due to an unacceptable loophole meaning the commission cannot investigate misuse of public funds or dishonest conduct by MPs once an election is called.

We firmly believe that integrity in public office is crucial at all levels of government. Labor notes the suggestion of changes enabling Integrity Commission to hear complaints around breaches of the Local Government Code of Conduct. As the Local Government Code of Conduct is also currently under review, Labor will wait for the outcomes of that process and hear feedback from the Local Government Association of Tasmania before taking a position.

Tasmanian Labor is committed to rebuilding the faith and trust of the Tasmanian people in the integrity of our public institutions. The Liberal Government needs to show the same commitment by adequately resourcing the Integrity Commission and implementing the changes identified in the review.

Rebecca White, ALP Leader & Ella Haddad, Shadow Attorney-General

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