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Federal corruption watchdog’s work should be visible to public

Before it began hearing the evidence of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday, the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption paused to pay tribute to the late David Ipp, QC, a judge who led the commission’s landmark corruption inquiries into NSW Labor figures including Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald.

Mr Ipp died in Sydney last week, aged 82. As further light is shone on the activities of former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire and what Ms Berejiklian may or may not have known about them, we should all remember Mr Ipp’s words on fighting corruption in the public service.

David Ipp, QC: "The idea of exposing corruption behind closed doors is oxymoronic."

David Ipp, QC: “The idea of exposing corruption behind closed doors is oxymoronic.”Credit:Kate Geraghty

At the beginning of last year, the Morrison government proposed a federal anti-corruption body, to be named the Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC), whose work would not be visible to the public either through hearings or findings unless prosecutions had followed. Mr Ipp joined several retired senior judges in describing the plan as a “deliberate political diversion designed to shield the public sector, and in particular politicians and their staff, from proper scrutiny and accountability”.

Despite making establishment of an anti-corruption body one of its election promises, the Coalition still has not submitted draft legislation for the CIC, pointing to the COVID-19 crisis to explain the delay. But to return to Mr Ipp’s words, “the idea of exposing corruption behind closed doors is oxymoronic”.

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