This is the question thrown up in the public arena after NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was forced to resign for not declaring the recipient of a $ 3,000 bottle of Grange Hermitage.
Premier O’Farrell originally denied having received a $3000 bottle of wine from Australian Water Holdings boss Nick Di Girolamo. He was forced to resign however after it was revealed that he sent Mr Di Girolamo a card thanking him for the gift. In resigning he accepted the hand written note was his handwriting.
The proceedings leading up to his resignation were of course held in public.
There have been calls to change the South Australian ICAC legislation to allow similar to happen here rather than be held in private. The question that this prompts is what if Barry O’Farrell had ultimately bee found innocent. Would he have been held innocent in the public eye or would the mud stick.
Our Attorney General, Deputy Premier John Rau has responded to the criticism be saying he sees no reason in what has happened in NSW to change his mind on the use of privacy. “I haven’t seen anything to change my view that an investigation should be conducted in camera and a trial should be conducted in public,” Mr Rau said.
The operative point here is the investigation should be held in private. If sufficient evidence is found to take the matter to trial then it should become public.