A former Victorian Supreme Court judge has blasted Tasmania's anti-corruption watchdog, saying the Integrity Commission's ineffectiveness has hoodwinked Tasmanian politicians into believing the state is free of wrongdoing.
Together with prominent Hobart lawyer Roland Browne, David Harper AM QC has today launched a new report from left-wing think tank the Australia Institute, which seeks to shine a light on deficiencies in political accountability and transparency in Tasmania.
The Good Government in Tasmania report makes several recommendations, including for the state government to introduce a raft of election donation reforms, legislate truth in political advertising and to beef up both the right to information system and the Integrity Commission.
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"In New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, extraordinarily serious instances of corruption have been unearthed by royal commissions or broad-based anti-corruption authorities," Mr Harper said. "There has been no similar findings in Tasmania from its anti-corruption authority."
"After operating for 10 years, the community and government need to ask why.
"Tasmania is one of the least transparent states in terms of its right to information and political donations laws.
"The lack of full inquiries by the Integrity Commission has led Tasmanian politicians to believe the myth that the state is free of corruption."
Australia Institute Tasmania director Leanne Minshull said an omnibus reform bill was required to address the problems raised in the report, as opposed to a "piecemeal" approach.
"The one good thing about being at the back of the pack is the opportunity for Tasmania to choose the best of the rest and emerge as a national leader in good government," Ms Minshull said. "The community is crying out for better governance, all we need now is the political will to make it happen."
The lack of full inquiries by the Integrity Commission has led Tasmanian politicians to believe the myth that the state is free of corruption.David Harper AM QC
Among the specific recommendations in the Australia Institute report are an independent inquiry to identify changes that need to be made to the Integrity Commission and disclosure of all political donations above $500 within 24 hours during an election period and within a 14 day period at other times.
Tasmania's Ombudsman recently found that state government agencies were 750 per cent more likely to deny information than those in the nation's most open jurisdictions.
The government has since indicated it will seek to improve right to information laws. Meanwhile, the final report from a review of the state's Electoral Act, which covers disclosure and electoral expenditure, was handed to the government a year ago but is yet to be released publicly.
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