This report examines the effectiveness of a national integrity commission without the ability to hold public hearings.
80 per cent of Australians support establishing a national integrity commission, and 78 per cent support establishing one with public hearings.
Evidence from Australian state based anti-corruption commissions show that the ability to hold public hearings have been critical to their success. Bodies that have regular public hearings as part of their investigations, such as NSW ICAC, are much more effective in investigating and exposing systemic corruption compared to those that do not hold regular public hearings, such as South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.
Anti-corruption commissioners across Australia have recognised the power of public hearings. SA ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander, who is currently the only commissioner who is not able to open hearings, has made a recommendation to the SA State Government to allow the commission to hold public hearings to ensure transparency.2 Victorian IBAC Commissioner Stephen O’Bryan QC has said that openly examining cases of alleged serious corruption and misconduct in public hearings has encouraged and empowered people to come forward and report suspected wrongdoing.3 Former assistant NSW ICAC Commissioner Anthony Whealy QC has said “there are many people out there in the public arena who will have information that’s very important to the investigation. If you conduct the investigation behind closed doors, they never hear of it and the valuable information they have will be lost.”