Parties reject inquiry power boost

THE Labor and Liberal parties have rebuffed a plan by the Greens to give the Integrity Commission stronger powers, saying they would await the outcome of a parliamentary review.

Greens leader Nick McKim yesterday announced he would put forward legislation to strengthen the investigative body in the next term of Parliament, including actual investigative powers like the ability to initiate its own inquiries, the power to compel witnesses, the ability to apply for warrants for documents and the capacity to recommend commissions of inquiry.

``It's absolutely crucial for the public confidence, not only in the Integrity Commission but in our entire democratic and public institutions of Tasmania that the Integrity Commission have the powers it needs to conduct full and robust investigations into allegations of corruption and malfeasance,'' Mr McKim said.

The Integrity Commission called for a strengthening of its powers in a submission to a parliamentary review committee last year, asking to be elevated to the status of ``law enforcement agency''.

Mr McKim said the Integrity Commission had been able to make some headway, mainly in educating public bodies about proper procedure, but said its powers needed to be strengthened for it to be able to fulfil the function most Tasmanians expected of it.

Attorney-General Brian Wightman said the Integrity Commission Act was currently being reviewed.

``I do not intend to pre-empt the outcome of that review,'' Mr Wightman said.

Liberal police spokeswoman Elise Archer said it was for the parliamentary committee to review the commission's powers.

The Liberal Party foreshadowed cuts to the commission's budget in its alternative budget last year.

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