The CLP Opposition is calling for an ongoing police investigation into the Office of the ICAC to include the Chief Minister’s office and demanded to know “what and who” is currently under investigation.
The issue was raised in the NT ICAC Inspector Bruce McClintock’s report released last week into a complaint made by the NT News over a text message written by its former editor to former Darwin Turf Club chair Brett Dixon in which he pledged to provide “plenty of positivity” in the newspaper when the controversial $12 million grandstand opened in 2019.
Mr McClintock found former ICAC Ken Fleming breached the ICAC Act by not providing the NT News and then-editor Matt Williams with a chance to respond to the text message before it was included in the grandstand corruption report that was released last June. He also recommended that because procedural fairness was not afforded, that the text message be removed from the ICAC’s grandstand report.
But Mr McClintock’s recent report also stated that the NT Police were currently investigating the Office of the ICAC for an alleged “breach of confidentiality”.
CLP Opposition Deputy Leader Gerard Maley called on the government to explain who exactly is under investigation and said any investigation concerning the grandstand deal should include Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s office.
“Following on from the ICAC revelations last week that allegations dealt with in the report were ‘currently subject to an investigation by NT Police’, we ask the Chief Minister Gunner and Nicole Manison, the Minister for Police, to confirm what and who is under further police investigation and whether or not there is a broader investigation into the [grandstand] deal,” Mr Maley said.
“If there is any police investigation into the dodgy grandstand deal, then it should include the Chief Minister’s office.
“Territorians deserve to know of the role played in the deal by the Gunner Government, where taxpayer dollars were spent and that all deals made by the Government are above-board.
“It’s time the Labor Government walked their talk and actually be open and transparent. It’s just not good enough and Territorians deserve better.”
Mr Maley also called on the Gunner Government to release its copy of the ICAC grandstand report that Mr McClintock said was given to Mr Gunner before the public report was released.
“If in fact there is a separate report, we call on the Chief Minister to release it immediately,” Mr Maley said.
However, current ICAC Michael Riches told the NT Independent on Tuesday that the “investigation report [provided to the Chief Minister and Racing Minister on June 24] and the public statement [released on June 25] are in largely identical terms”.
“The only substantial differences were the omission of certain names and titles from the public statement and the correction of certain typographical and spelling errors,” he said.
Details of police investigation murky
The police investigation into unspecified “allegations of misconduct” concerning the Office of the ICAC was first reported last month. The NT Independent revealed at the time that current ICAC general manager Matt Grant had taken a six-month secondment with the NT Police as acting chief operating officer.
Mr Grant was appointed as general manager of the OICAC in February 2019 and oversaw all investigations the office conducted.
Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Michael Riches told the NT Independent that Mr Grant is not the subject of the current police investigation and that he will return to the general manager role at the OICAC after the secondment is over.
He also revealed that Mr Grant had “pursued and identified” the position with the NT Police.
“Mr Grant has been offered a development opportunity as the Acting Chief Operating Officer of NTPFES. I have agreed to that development opportunity,” Mr Riches said in an email last month.
“I have been advised by NT Police that their investigation does not relate to any current ICAC staff member – obviously, that includes Mr Grant.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include Mr Riches’ lines about the report provided to the Chief Minister.