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NSW Liberals defund integrity agencies including the Electoral Commission, “You can’t keep tabs on us,” said Gladys

The NSW Liberal Government has delivered a $15 million cut to the State’s key integrity agencies – including the ICAC, the Law Enforcement Commission – compromising their independence and ability to conduct investigations.

NSW Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord was responding to answers given to supplementary questions during Budget Estimates with Special Minister of State, Public Service and Employee Relations, Mr Don Harwin.

NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian does not like anyone looking over her shoulder

The funding cuts will affect five key integrity agencies over the periods – 2020-21; 2021-22; 2022-23; and 2023-24:

The cuts compromise:

  • The Independent Commission Against Corruption ($3.418 million) ;
  • The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission ($3.316 million);
  • The Audit Office of NSW ($373,000)
  • The NSW Electoral Commission($4.425 million); and
  • The NSW Ombudsman ($3.436 million).

This totals $14.968 million over a four year period.

Shadow Special Minister of State and Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord said: “this is a de facto declaration of war on the State’s integrity bodies.”

The ICAC chief commissioner, Peter Hall QC and the NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford had previously expressed concerns about the need for independent funding.

Currently, the ICAC has been reduced to its smallest size in its 30 year history.

On March 22, the ICAC handed down its report from Operation Dasha, involving the conduct of disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

“Sadly, the easiest way to stymie those who root out corruption is to tie their investigative hands behind their backs,” Mr Secord said.

“In the past year, we have heard revelations against the Premier’s office shredding important documents and delivering millions of dollars in grants without proper process.”

Last year, the Government also rejected a bill to protect the funding of the ICAC.