Statutory powers

When investigating, the ICAC has powers under law to gather information. These powers allow the ICAC to:

  • compel the production of documents or other things

  • compel a public authority or public official to provide information

  • enter properties occupied by a public authority or public official to inspect and copy documents

  • obtain warrants to search properties

  • use surveillance devices and intercept telephone calls

  • compel witnesses to answer questions at compulsory examinations (private hearings) and public inquiries.

The ICAC also has surveillance capacity that may be deployed for particular investigations.

However, the use of these statutory powers and the use of surveillance techniques require sufficient justification and appropriate authority. Applications for the exercise of statutory powers are considered by a Commission lawyer and the Executive Director of the Legal Division before being made.

Search warrant applications are submitted to authorised officers (attached to Local Courts) for approval. Section 40(2) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 also gives an ICAC Commissioner the power to issue search warrants, however, this power has never been exercised.

Surveillance device applications under the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 (NSW) have to be approved/granted by a judge of the Supreme Court.

Telephone intercept applications under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cwlth) have to be approved/granted by a Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The use of these powers is reported in the ICAC's Annual Report. The Inspector of the ICAC ensures that the ICAC acts within the law, including in the exercise of its statutory powers.

Protocol for the management of material believed to be obtained or created in contravention of s 7 of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007