The CLP Opposition’s calls for a “detailed parliamentary review” into the ICAC Act, rather than the one currently being conducted behind closed doors by a hand-picked public servant, has been shot down by the Gunner Government in Parliament today in what the Opposition labelled a “shocking display of dictatorship”.
The Gunner Government quietly announced a review of the ICAC Act in March, with the notice buried in a press release at the time.
The government has since confirmed the review is being undertaken by former Department of Attorney General chief executive and long-time public servant Greg Shanahan, but they have not said how Mr Shanahan was chosen for the role or whether it had been advertised.
Deputy CLP leader Gerard Maley said any review of the legislation pertaining to the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption must be conducted openly and involve the public, not treated as a “secret report”.
“The Chief Minister … seems to forget the ICAC isn’t a government tool,” Mr Maley said.
“The only way to restore public confidence in the ICAC Commissioner, and Commission, following a swath of errors in process and judgement … is with a public inquiry.
“Labor though, is more than happy to deprive Territorians of a crucial democratic process and quashed our motion.”
The NT Independent sent questions to Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s office about why the government would block a public review into the Act.
Mr Gunner was also asked if the process to select Mr Shanahan included publicly advertising the role or in what capacity he was conducting the review and what its terms of reference are.
During the Estmates hearings last week, Commissioner Ken Fleming revealed that under the ICAC Act, he has powers to compel journalists to reveal sources, while also publicly criticising a whistleblower who referred his office for investigation to the ICAC Inspector for awarding contracts to the domestic partner of its director of investigations.
The ICAC stated the conflict of interest had been effectively managed.
Mr Gunner this week pledged to include the journalistic privilege issue in the review, but its terms of reference have not been disclosed, and it appears the terms of reference change at Mr Gunner’s pleasure.
The ICAC was also contacted for comment.