New research released today by the Australia Institute shows that a federal ICAC may not be effective in exposing or investigating corruption and misconduct unless it holds public hearings.
Public hearings have a proven track record in anti-corruption investigations in Australia. Evidence from state based anti-corruption commissions show that the anti-corruption commission that holds regular public hearings, NSW ICAC, has been the most effective in exposing and investigating corruption and misconduct.
“Corruption happens because dodgy deals are made behind closed doors and the public is kept in the dark. Anti-corruption investigations must open these doors and let the public hold their representatives to account,” said Australia Institute Chief Economist Richard Denniss.
“NSW ICAC has been attacked because it has publicly exposed corruption and misconduct in the highest levels of government. Politicians do not like public hearings because they work,” said Dr Denniss.
“Exposing corruption and misconduct is the main function of anti-corruption commissions. Public hearings shed light on corruption. Holding anti-corruption investigations in private does not expose corruption but allows shady deals to continue to be secured behind closed doors,” said former counsel assisting NSW ICAC Geoffrey Watson SC.
“Investigations into Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald could not have occurred without public hearings. Over a hundred witnesses came forward with critical information during these public hearings,” said Mr Watson.