Call for integrity power boost

WHISTLEBLOWER advocates are calling for Tasmania's Integrity Commission to boost its powers and be more like the New South Wales corruption body.

The calls come in the wake of former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell's sudden resignation after misleading the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and comments from Victoria's corruption commissioner that more coercive powers were needed.

Whistleblowers Tasmania spokeswoman Isla MacGregor said Tasmania needed greater transparency, and the community needed to take a stronger role in engaging with the issues surrounding corruption investigations.

"Tasmania needs an ICAC-style body," she 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".

"Premier [Will] Hodgman would be very wise to heed the advice of the commission and enable stronger powers," Ms MacGregor said.

She said stronger whistleblower protection laws were needed, including compensation provisions.

"It's been very difficult to track the effectiveness of the Integrity Commission," she said.

Opposition justice spokeswoman Lara Giddings said the Integrity Commission had not found evidence of systematic corruption in the state, and the review was "the best process to determine whether any further changes should be made to the way the commission operates".

Greens justice spokesman Nick McKim said it was important that the review was completed and included public hearings, which would allow community members and other agencies to make suggestions for improvement.

"Given the recent national examples of the importance of these independent integrity oversight bodies, it is incumbent on the state to ensure Tasmania's Integrity Commission has the necessary tools to do its job on behalf of the Tasmanian community," Mr McKim said.

"The commission also needs enhanced coercive powers, with the ability to compel witnesses to answer questions and produce information, which is consistent with the powers vested in anti- corruption bodies around Australia.

Submissions for the review of the Integrity Commission were due in January, and it is not yet known when a report will be finalised.


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