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ICAC Commissioner calls on community leaders to report corruption

Tuesday 3 November 2009

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Commissioner, the Hon Jerrold Cripps QC, today called on local community leaders in Kiama to continue reporting suspected corrupt conduct.

The Commissioner was addressing approximately 50 people at a breakfast hosted by the Commission as part of its Outreach visit to the Illawarra, which was attended by representatives from local councils, state government agencies, local business people and interest groups.

Commissioner Cripps said that community leaders should encourage those who come to them for advice to report even apparently minor corrupt conduct. "This is one way of trying to avoid the steady progression to more serious misconduct that history has shown us inevitably occurs," he said.

"The community has a right to expect that public officials at all levels perform their duties in a fair and unbiased way. The decisions they make should not be affected by self interest, private affiliations, or the likelihood of personal gain or loss.

"Public official or not, everyone can play an important role in helping combat corruption," Commissioner Cripps said.

The Commissioner said that corruption not only causes financial costs to a community but it can also erode public confidence in the agency that has failed to manage its corruption risks.

"The public inquiry into Wollongong City Council is an example of how an investigation can impact not only on an organisation, but on the local community as well," he said. "The $19 million in improperly awarded contracts involving RailCorp that the Commission uncovered last year also demonstrates the public financial costs of corrupt conduct."

With his term concluding next week, Commissioner Cripps also reflected on the achievements of the ICAC, which marked 20 years of operations in March this year. "The Commission has conducted close to 100 public inquiries, made nearly 750 corruption prevention recommendations and provided corruption prevention advice on 5,100 occasions," he said.

The ICAC's Outreach visit this week includes workshops and briefing sessions for state and local government agencies on corruption prevention risks and techniques. The workshops will include corruption prevention for managers (state and local government sessions), better management of disclosures and presentations to local high schools.

Assistant Ombudsman Greg Andrews also attended the breakfast, along with the NSW Police Integrity Commissioner John Pritchard. Mr Andrews and Mr Pritchard spoke about the functions of their respective agencies, while Mr Andrews also joined with the Commission to co-present the Better Management of Protected Disclosures workshop.

The ICAC outreach program has proved highly successful since its inception in 2001. Previous visits have included the Illawarra, New England, the Hunter, Mudgee, the Far West, the South East, the Central Coast, the Central West, the North Coast and the South Coast.