Investigative powers should be taken away from Tasmania’s Integrity Commission with senior officials left to monitor employers, the state government says.
The Tasmanian government wants an overhaul of the state’s integrity watchdog, proposing it be stripped of investigatory powers.
In cases where allegations are made against public sector workers including government officials, the matter should be investigated by the “employer”, the government said in its submission to a joint parliamentary inquiry into Tasmania’s Integrity Commission on Monday.
In its current guise, the commission is an unsustainable cost burden and overlaps the functions of other agencies including police and the State Service Ombudsman, the submission reads.
Introduced in 2010 by the then Labor government, the commission’s board and senior management costs taxpayers close to $1 million a year.
“Since its inception, concerns have been raised about the cost effectiveness and efficiency of the Integrity Commission,” the Liberal government’s Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin said.
Monday’s submission said it was never the intention to introduce a Tasmanian equivalent of NSW’s ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) or Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission which possess “strong, coercive and intrusive powers”.
“The Integrity Commission’s future role should exclude its current investigatory functions and focus on providing advice on integrity and ethics issues,” the submission proposed.
The government proposed that in place of the commission, there be an inspector general appointed to oversee integrity complaints.
Tasmanian Greens spokesman Nick McKim slammed the government’s move to abolish the commission.
“Just six months in government they want to kill off its capacity to investigate allegations of corruption and serious misconduct,” he said.
Mr McKim said the commission needs greater, not fewer, powers if allegations of public sector corruption are to be independently and thoroughly investigated.