Law Society of SA calls for ICAC review over concerns rushed legislation fails the pub test & More

South Australian attorneys say “hurried” anti-corruption legal guidelines permit public officers convicted of sure crimes to cost taxpayers for their authorized charges, and parliament’s dealing with of the legal guidelines “fails the pub test”.

Key factors:

  • The Law Society of SA says it seems convicted public officers can cost taxpayers for issues like appeals 
  • The Law Society has written to the Attorney-General asking for readability round the provision
  • The authorities is searching for additional recommendation on the provision in the act

Last week, an ABC unique report outlined the implications of a little-understood change to the state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Act.

The legislation was handed unanimously by South Australia’s parliament following lower than 24 hours of debate final yr.

It permits MPs and public servants to assert their authorized prices again for offences together with deception, theft and dishonestly coping with paperwork, as a result of these crimes not fall inside the ICAC Act’s definition of corruption.

Barrister and Centre for Public Integrity director Geoffrey Watson final week stated the public must be “outraged” by the provision, and he had “never heard of such a generous repayment scheme for government officials at the public’s expense”.

“In simple terms, a politician could be caught out in an act of corruption, defend it, be found guilty and be the subject of scathing observations by a magistrate, and then recover his or her costs for having unsuccessfully defended the matter,” Mr Watson stated.

Geoffrey Watson SC

Centre for Public Integrity director Geoffrey Watson stated final week the public must be “outraged” by the provision.(ABC News)

In a written submission to Attorney-General Kyam Maher, the Law Society of SA stated its Civil Litigation Council had examined the provisions to “provide some clarity”.

It discovered the reimbursement provisions utilized at sure factors in authorized proceedings.

“A public officer who is the subject of ICAC investigation can only apply for legal costs that relate to the investigation itself, and NOT the costs incurred once charged, such as the costs of defending criminal proceedings,” president Justin Stewart-Rattray stated.

“The Act does indicate that a person can also be reimbursed for any reviews or appeals arising out of an ICAC investigation.

“The Attorney-General has no discretion to disclaim reimbursement as soon as the circumstances are glad … [and] successfully, reimbursement is to be supplied except the individual is convicted of an indictable offence that constitutes ‘corruption in public administration’.”

A man wearing a suit and colourful tie speaks to the media

The Law Society supplied a written submission to Attorney-General Kyam Maher.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

The Law Society said it had not formed a position regarding whether such reimbursement was appropriate or not.

It said strict secrecy provisions, “trifling or unintentional” offending, and the financial burden placed on individuals “not rich sufficient to fund a personal lawyer for extended intervals” could be viewed as justifications for the provision.

“The Society notes that the query of whether or not such a coverage must be adopted can be a matter for additional session,” it wrote.

Parliament’s dealing with of legal guidelines ‘fails the pub test’

The Law Society again called for a full review of the legislation, following “extraordinarily restricted and insufficient session”.

“The Society is worried by recommendations in current media protection that parliamentarians who voted for the ICAC reforms weren’t conscious of or didn’t absolutely respect the impact of the provisions,” Mr Stewart-Rattray said.

“The Society believes a wider review of the ICAC Act can be acceptable, given different potential knock-on results of the ICAC reforms that the Law Society has beforehand recognized.

“The public should expect parliamentarians themselves to robustly discuss the merits of proposed legislation.

“When there may be an precise or perceived intent to rush legislation by way of with minimal scrutiny, it tends to fail the ‘pub test’.

“But more significantly, it can lead to bad law.”

justin stewart rattray

Law Society of SA president Justin Stewart-Rattray has referred to as for a full review of the legislation.(Supplied: Law Society of SA/Tom Roschi Photography)

Last week, each Premier Peter Malinauskas and Attorney-General Kyam Maher stated they might search additional recommendation concerning the reimbursement provisions.

In an announcement, a state authorities spokesman stated: “The Law Society’s views on this matter will be provided to and taken into account by those advising the Attorney-General on this issue.” 

Former Liberal MPs Troy Bell and Fraser Ellis are at present earlier than the courts, charged over their use of the Country Members Accommodation Allowance (CMAA).

The scheme allowed regional MPs to be reimbursed for nights spent in Adelaide on official enterprise.

Both are charged with deception offences for allegedly claiming tens of hundreds of {dollars} they weren’t entitled to.

Both MPs strenuously deny any wrongdoing.

Irrespective of the final result in the courtroom, they’re eligible to assert authorized prices.

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