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ICAC powers limited to 'serious corruption': Baird
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ICAC powers limited to 'serious corruption': Baird

Mike Baird Premier New South Wales

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption has won back some power to investigate non-public officials, though only in cases of "serious corrupt conduct".

Premier Mike Baird indicated his government planned to adopt all recommendations in the review handed down by former High Court chief justice Murray Gleeson and barrister Bruce McClintock SC.

The review was prompted by a High Court challenge brought by deputy crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen which narrowed ICAC’s jurisdiction.

In the final report, Mr McClintock and Justice Gleeson appear to support the High Court in its reasoning on the Cunneen case.

The review recommended ICAC’s power may only be exercised in “the case of serious corrupt conduct”, limiting its application.

However, it also recommended expanding ICAC's scope “beyond that as defined in Cunneen by taking a fresh approach to the identification of that kind of corrupt conduct that does not involve wrongdoing on the part of a public official”.

“This approach could be based on the concept of conduct that undermines or could undermine confidence in public administration,” the review stated.

However, the review laid down specific circumstances where "corrupt behaviour" could be alleged, such as collusive tendering, fraud in relation to licence applications, dishonestly obtaining payment from public fund or assets, defrauding revenue or fraudulently obtaining employment as a public official.

On the other hand, the review proposed expanding ICAC oversight over serious breaches of electoral and lobbying laws.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Premier Baird endorsed all the recommendations.

“I think the important point about today is we want ICAC to get cracking,” Premier Baird said.

“We want them to continue to hunt down serious and systemic corruption in this state and we will continue to have zero tolerance to corruption in NSW.”

Following the Cunneen verdict, ICAC signalled its intention to hold off on reports on Operations Credo and Spicer until the review was released.

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