Greens call for new powers for corruption watchdog

CALLS have been made for the Independent Commission Against Corruption to receive new powers after the High Court blocked a corruption investigation against Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.

CalcinoCALLS have been made for the Independent Commission Against Corruption to receive new powers after the High Court blocked a corruption investigation against Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.

The NSW corruption watchdog hoped to investigate allegations Ms Cunneen had coached a witness - her son's girlfriend - into perverting the course of justice after a car crash.

Now the High Court has deemed such accusations fall outside the realm of "corruption" and therefore beyond ICAC's scope.

The decision is likely to result in a string of other ICAC findings being overturned and planned inquiries halted.The NSW Greens have called for the government to update anti-corruption laws to allow ICAC to continue its work.

"Today's ruling of the High Court that ICAC had acted outside its powers is a blow to efforts to fight against corruption in NSW," Greens MP Jamie Parker said.

"ICAC has widespread public support and has led the nation in its work to uncover corrupt conduct. "It has been an incredibly effective corruption-fighting body and deserves the full support of the parliament."

A flood of politicians and others deemed "corrupt" in ICAC investigations are now expected to lodge legal challenges to the decisions, many of which resulted in the loss of their jobs.

However, one challenge has already been unsuccessful.

Mining companies NuCoal and Cascade Coal and its director Travers Duncan fought to have exploration rights re-instated after ICAC deemed them "so tainted by corruption" they should be cancelled over inquiries into former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid's alleged dishonest dealings in granting the licences.

The High Court on Wednesday ordered the licences should remain cancelled and ordered the companies and Mr Duncan to pay the state's legal fees.

Mr Parker welcomed that decision, but feared more challenges were on the way."In light of the High Court decision, the government must quickly move to introduce legislative amendments to the ICAC Act to safeguard the work of ICAC," he said.

"If the government won't introduce legislative amendments, then the Greens will."

- APN NEWSDESK



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