MP wants ICAC to have power to prosecute

THE Independent Commission Against Corruption should be given the power to prosecute when it unearths corrupt behaviour, according to Kiama MP Gareth Ward.

Mr Ward spoke out on Friday hours before the Baird government again founds itself reeling as Police Minister Mike Gallacher was stood down after being named in the ongoing inquiry into political donations and cash for favours.

Mr Ward said he was very disappointed with the revelations that have embroiled the Liberal Party.

“People have the right to be disappointed because people expect the best standards from politicians,” he said. 

“People make mistakes and we understand that. But there’s a difference between making a mistake and deliberately going out of your way to use the political system to deceive others, to deceive your electorate, or indeed to use your office for personal advantage.” 

Mr Ward said he was concerned about discussions he’d heard from both sides of politics about reining in and muzzling the corruption watchdog. 

“The only reform I would like to see of ICAC is to make its powers stronger. For instance I’d like to see the ICAC have a prosecutorial arm,” he said. 

“Whenever there is a change of government the ICAC should be there to make sure that if there is corrupt activity or if there is subversive activity it is investigated and dealt with.”

Mr Ward said while ICAC had the powers of a royal commission to obtain evidence, it was imperative public figures found to be corrupt suffered consequences. 

“It’s one thing to say someone is corrupt and their reputation gets the battering that it deserves but in the case of someone like Eddie Obeid my greatest concern is that we may have seen the biggest case of corruption since the Rum Corps and no one may go to jail for it,” he said.

“There are many people who have expressed that concern about the ICAC doing half of the job – a really important job in ensuring that there is that transparency and accountability in government and exposing things that are wrong.  There’s also the need to punish those people and persuade those who might be convinced of wrongdoing not to do it.”

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