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.
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.
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New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned that social distancing restrictions will be in place in her state “until a vaccine is found”.
But what exactly goes into developing a vaccine for a new disease? And how long will that take?
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, was only identified a few months ago, and while researchers have been rapidly finding out about the virus and the disease it causes, there’s still so much about it we don’t understand.
But that doesn’t mean the quest for a vaccine is coming from a standing start.
Rapid vaccine development technologies mean that the time it takes to develop a vaccine, which used to be in the order of two to five years, could be condensed down to the 12 –18 month time frame that many experts have been referring to.
And the science that has gone into developing past vaccines also gives researchers a jump on COVID-19.
Even so, creating a new vaccine isn’t as simple as taking an existing vaccine and swapping the viruses, said Larisa Labzin, an immunologist from the University of Queensland.
“For each virus or different bacterium that causes a disease, we need a different vaccine because the immune response that’s mounted is different,” Dr Labzin said.