Last year, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gave evidence to the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry, whereby she admitted she’d been in a “close personal relationship” with former Liberal MP for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire, between 2015 until August 2020.
Maguire was forced to resign from the Liberal Party and parliament in on 13 July 2018, after he admitted at an earlier corruption inquiry that he sought payment over a property deal.
Shortly after Premier Berejiklian’s evidence to ICAC, she faced a vote of no-confidence in parliament, which she survived 47–38 in the lower house and 21–20 in the upper house.
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Call it coincidence, but the NSW Government is now cutting funding to its key integrity agencies by $14 million over the next four years, with ICAC taking a $3.4 million hit:
The ICAC has long been pleading with the Berejiklian government to address its funding concerns, warning it would be forced to reduce the organisation to its smallest size in its 30-year history…
A report from the Auditor-General last year has warned that the independence of the ICAC is at risk because decisions around its funding are made behind closed doors by cabinet ministers who could end up involved in inquiries…
Labor’s Treasury spokesman Walt Secord said the measures were a “defacto declaration of war on the state’s integrity bodies”.
“Sadly the easiest way to stymie those who root out corruption is to tie their investigative hands behind their backs,” Mr Secord said.
There’s no other way to describe this move but scummy.
The best way for a government to avoid corruption issues is to defund the very anti-corruption agencies tasked with investigating said issues.
Bodies like ICAC are key ingredients to having a healthy democracy. Their funding should be increased, not slashed.