The Northern Territory’s first corruption commissioner says he has received reports of “serious corruption” and launched several investigations in his first 100 days of office.
Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Ken Fleming says his office has received more than 100 reports of serious and improper misconduct, a number of which are being investigated.
Almost half the allegations (48.5 per cent), outlined in a special update on the NT ICAC’s first 100 days released on Thursday, involve misconduct, and a quarter involve corruption.
Most allegations relate to dishonesty, inappropriate performance of functions, misuse of resources, conflict of interest, breach of public trust and misuse of official information.
More than 60 per cent were made about government agencies and offices, and 17.5 per cent concerned police, the report says.
“It is clear to me, from the reports made to my office and matters which I have looked into, that public administration in the Northern Territory is as susceptible to corruption as any jurisdiction,” Mr Fleming said.
“I have received reports of serious corruption and I intend to investigate these matters to the full extent of my powers to bring those responsible to account.”
The report says every ICAC staff member is currently “occupied to capacity” and it is anticipated that reports will continue to come in at about the same rate.
The ICAC Act establishing the commissioner and came into force last November and March 11 marks 100 days since the ICAC began to exercise its broad investigative powers, which extend to MLAs, local councils, courts and tribunals.
It is tasked with investigating reports of corruption and misconduct by government bodies and public officers who receive government money including contractors and grant recipients.
Mr Fleming said he would use the powers of his position carefully and called for anyone who may have been involved in, or who may suspect improper conduct, to come forward.
“People who have been involved in, or have reasonable suspicion of, improper conduct must come forward and tell their story. The powers of the ICAC are broad and our reach is very deep, and not coming forward could have serious consequences for those involved in, or aware of, improper conduct,” he said.
The ICAC’s most senior staff member, general manager Matthew Grant, took up his role on January 7 despite conflict of interest concerns being raised about him earlier in the year in relation to his brother Michael Grant who is Chief Justice of the NT Supreme Court.
The ICAC is a key element of the Territory’s move to restore trust in government and uphold integrity in public administration after a series of scandals prior to the 2016 election decimated the then CLP government.
The commissioner has broad investigative as well as retrospective powers, enabling it to investigate back to the beginning of NT self-governance in 1978.
As part of its function to help public administration improve the public sector’s capacity to resist corruption it will over the next weeks and months publish case studies, tool kits and guidelines to identify and mitigate corruption risks.
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