Tas Releases Discussion Paper on Proposed Reform of Integrity Commission Act 2009

Thursday 21 July 2022 @ 1.05 p.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

On 8 July 2022, the Tasmanian Department of Justice (“the DoJ”) called for input on a Discussion Paper (“the Paper”) regarding legislative reform of the Integrity Commission Act 2009 (Tas) (the “Act”).

Consultation on the Paper is currently open, please refer to the DoJ site for further information.

Purpose of the Act

As outlined in the Paper, the object of the Act is:

“… to promote and enhance standards of ethical conduct by public officers by the establishment of an Integrity Commission. The Act provides the Commission with a number of functions and powers including to educate public officers about integrity in public administration and to investigate complaints about misconduct”.

The Cox Review

According to a July Media Release from Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer:

“The Discussion Paper responds to the 2016 Independent Review of the Integrity Commission Act 2009, completed by the Hon William Cox AC, RFD, ED, QC [“the Cox Review”] in addition to consultation with the Integrity Commission.”

The Cox Review was completed in accordance with section 106 of the Act, which required the Minister of Justice to commission an independent review after 31 December 2015.

The review was to consider:

  • the operation of the Act in achieving the objectives of the Integrity Commission ("the Commission");
  • the operation of the Commission itself;
  • the Parliamentary Standards Commission and its operation;
  • the operation of the Joint Committee;
  • the effectiveness of the orders and regulations subordinate to the Act in furthering the objective of the Commission; and
  • any other relevant matters.

The Cox Review commenced on 1 February 2016, and tabled its final report in Parliament on 24 August 2016. The Cox Review made a total of 55 recommendations, most of which were accepted either in full or in principle by the Government.

This consultation process aims to inform the development of a future Draft Bill, which will be later released for further consultation. In addition to the current public submission process, the DoJ plans to continue to collaborate with the Integrity Commission and other stakeholders to develop the Draft Bill.

Submissions are also sought on other potential reforms, on which the Government does not have a decided position.

These potential reforms include:

  • the Commission's own 2018 report regarding “Disclosure of official secrets” and “Unauthorised access to a computer” offences; and
  • the Commission's 2021 decision on its jurisdiction over the election campaigns of members of parliament.

The Consultation

Some of the Cox Review recommendations that are considered under this consultation include:

  • Recommendation 12(a): The Head of an Agency of a public officer that is being assessed or investigated for misconduct will be informed of the nature of the misconduct on a confidential basis by the Commission, unless doing so will compromise the assessment or investigation (accepted by the Government);
  • Recommendation 16: The Commission should refer matters to the Tasmanian Police if criminal conduct is identified during the course of its investigation (accepted by the Government).

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