Ten reasons why a federal ICAC should have the discretion to conduct public hearings

by Alex McKean

Associate Professor Appleby has argued that a federal ICAC should have the discretion to conduct public hearings in ‘cases where public concern surrounding an allegation of corruption that it rises to a crisis of confidence in government’, demanding an immediate assurance that a robust investigation is underway.

Recent survey research indicates that there is already something of a crisis of public confidence in government in this country. The Scanlon Foundation survey data shows that the percentage of people who thought the government in Canberra could be trusted to do the right thing by the Australian people dropped from 47% to 27% over the period from 2009 to 2013.

Corruption is seen as an increasing problem in Australia. The TI 2017 Global Corruption Barometer survey results found that majorities in the range 60-83 percent believed that there was at least some corruption amongst elected and appointed officials; 34 percent believed that corruption had increased, while only 5 percent believed it had decreased; 66 percent thought that corporate political donations were ‘a big problem’; and 41 percent thought ‘the government’ was not doing well in ‘handling the fight against corruption’.

I argue that the best response to this crisis in confidence is for a federal ICAC to be introduced which has a broad discretion to conduct public hearings, resulting in the being properly informed about the efficacy of the ICAC and investigations into corruption.

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