NT ICAC coming
New laws have passed that will allow the Northern Territory to set up its own ICAC.
NT’s Labor Government says it will have its Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) up and running by mid-year.
The anti-corruption bill will see tougher penalties for corruption within government and the public sector, including a new maximum jail term for requesting or offering a bribe of 10 years.
Advancing secret personal interests will become an offence that carries a jail term of seven years, NT Attorney General Natasha Fyles said.
“This bill allows the commission to operate. It gives it the teeth to do so,” Ms Fyles said in Parliament.
“This bill strengthens the accountability of every person working in government, it strengthens the accountability of those who work with government so Territorians can have trust.”
The new ICAC will be allowed to use surveillance and assume false identities, similar to ICACs in other jurisdictions.
“It gives the ICAC the power to seek warrants under surveillance and telecommunication legislation, and to seek authorisation to conduct unlawful activities and assume false identities,” Ms Fyles said.
“The bill also ensures that the ICAC has powers to enter prisons, and to access the registered interests of this assembly, to engage external investigators without any interference from government officials and to access records of spent convictions.”
Ms Fyles said the definition of ‘gain’ and ‘benefit’ would be expanded to cover forms of gain such as services and property.
“This closes a loophole where it could not be corrupt for a public officer to accept a kickback in the form of having services provided for free,” the Attorney General told Parliament.
The new bill expands to definition of ‘public officer’ to cover those working in government but not employed by the public service, and apply the same anti-corruption laws to them.
“And the current definition is limited to those in the public service and does not include, for example ministerial advisors,” Ms Fyles said.
“This new definition will capture all persons performing services on behalf of the Northern Territory Government, irrespective of whether they're retained as contractors or public sector employees.
“Which is very important in the modern public service that delivers services in various ways across the Territory.”
The announcement of the appointment of an ICAC commissioner is expected in coming months.