The State Government has moved from one extreme to the other with the introduction on May 2 last week of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bill 2012 before Parliament.
The Bill we the public has been asking for almost the length of this government’s tenure is now before us. And a quick read through it would suggest a public official will now have to be careful how they breath because it (breathing that is) will be heavily scrutinised.
If passed the ICAC will have broad and significant investigatory powers; which includes the ability to search private places and vehicles, to search persons and to allow investigators to secretly record private conversations in the course of an investigation. And hearings are planned to be in public.
If I understand what I have read on the subject thus far correctly is being proposed I wonder if it may actually be counterproductive and dissuade good people from running if public office.
On the positive side the ICAC will not only perform a punitive role but an educative one. That’s good because we will need to know if we can pick our nose and not contravene any decreed behavioural standards. I do suspect there will be behaviours that have been allowed in the past that will not be allowed in the future which will mean a need for eduction. Some officials will get caught up in this doing what they have done for years (maybe decades) and thought was perfectly OK only to find …..NOT NOW!
Of course the Government, as usual, intends this legislation to be put into action by July 1. This means it will get the usual amount of public consultation that this government has become (in)famous for.