Corrupt conduct is deliberate or intentional wrongdoing, not negligence or a mistake.
While it can take many forms, corrupt conduct occurs when:
- a NSW public official improperly uses, or tries to improperly use, the knowledge, power or resources of his or her position for personal gain or the advantage of others
- a NSW public official acts dishonestly exercises his or her official functions or improperly exercises his or her official functions in a partial manner, breaches public trust or misuses information or material acquired during the course of his or her official functions
- a member of the public influences, or tries to influence, a NSW public official to use his or her position in a way that is dishonest or partial
- a member of the public engages in conduct that could involve one of the matters set out in section 8(2A) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 ("the ICAC Act") where such conduct impairs, or could impair, public confidence in public administration (Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2015).
Corrupt conduct is not always easy to recognise. The ICAC realises this and encourages the reporting of conduct wherever there is a reasonable suspicion that corrupt conduct has occurred.
The ICAC also recognises that public officials working in public authorities may be well placed to identify corrupt wrongdoing, but that they may fear reprisals in their workplace as a result. There are certain protections for NSW public officials making disclosures under the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.
To assist the ICAC to assess a matter, it is often useful to provide enough information to allow the ICAC to understand specifically what is alleged and to ascertain whether the matter is within jurisdiction. It can be helpful to attach documents where you have legitimate access to these.
Other sources of information
Both local government councils and state agencies have accountability requirements to publish certain information, either as publications or on websites. Under Freedom of Information legislation, individuals are also able to apply for access to documents.
The NSW government has instituted a range of accountability requirements that NSW public authorities need to comply with. Some of these requirements include making information available to the public to scrutinise.
State agencies are required to produce annual reports. Agencies that have legislated accountabilities and reporting requirements generally are required to include this information in their annual reports. Public reports published by watchdog agencies such as the Audit Office or Ombudsman that examine a particular agency or sector can also be revealing. Websites too are a source of helpful information.
Freedom of information requirements also allow members of the public to gain access to certain information.
- The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 requires each council to make available on its website "open access information". This includes policy documents, contracts register and a publication guide describing the way in which the council's functions affect members of the public. More information on this topic can be found at The Office of the Information Commissioner website.
- General managers of councils are required to keep a register of copies of current disclosures of political donations by councillors (section 328A of the Local Government Act 1993). Details of donations reported by parties, groups, candidates and donors are also published by the Electoral Funding Authority on its website.
- Under section 147 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, any person who makes a relevant planning application or submission to a council is required to disclose all donations of $1000 or more made in the last two years to any councillors. Similarly, gifts made to any councillor or employee of a council in the same period are also required to be disclosed. Councils are required to make disclosures of reportable political donations or gifts available to the public.
- Councils are now required to make a register of development applications determined with variations in standards under SEPP 1 available on the council's website (see Department of Planning circular PS 08-014).
- Under section 375A of the Local Government Act 1993 the general manager of a council is required to keep a register containing the names of councillors who supported the decision and those that opposed the decision for each planning decision made at a council or committee meeting.
- The general manager of a council is required to keep a register of returns required to be lodged with the general manager under section 449 of the Local Government Act relating to certain interests of councillors and designated persons (section 450A of the Local Government Act).