Gladys Berejiklian News, Nick Greiner father of ICAC corruption watchdog

ICAC event, but a long way to go for Daryl Maguire

The primary points are:

  • In 2018-19, 57 ICAC findings of serious corruption
  • In the same year, the Lawyer called for advice on eight individuals
  • Since 1988, the corruption watchdog has claimed many high-profile casualties

Disgraced NSW MP Daryl Maguire 's amazing string of revelations this week to the state's graft prosecutor gives the watchdog something to mull over — but precedent suggests a complaint isn't certain.

Gladys Berejiklian and Maguire were in a five-year secret relationship.
Gladys Berejiklian and Maguire were in a five-year secret relationship.

Wagga Wagga's former member was blunt about his role in a "cash-for-visa" racket for Chinese citizens, failing to report commercial interests in accordance with MP's commitments, and "monetising" his office to help both himself and associates.

In 2017, when they were in a private relationship, Mr Maguire negotiated land deals with Gladys Berejiklian and facilitated a "drop-in" meeting between the Premier and a property developer.

Yet what unfolds following an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is always more political than legal.

The Premier endured what she describes as a "personal nightmare" as publicly exposed her private five-year relationship with Mr Maguire. She also split a Question Time grill on what she knew or didn't hear about his behaviour.

But it remains to be seen if Mr Maguire will face enforcement on his watchdog corruption evidence.

How's ICAC working?

ICAC public investigation theatrics give Australians a glimpse of an American-style court hearing, where proceedings are filmed even more often.

Mr Maguire faced serious corruption watchdog questioning
Mr Maguire faced serious corruption watchdog questioning

Issue lines at the commission routinely follow a similar path: a witness experiences memory loss before being "helped" by a lawyer assisting by tapped phone calls, email trails, or invoices.

When Mr Maguire 's time in the jury box is over, the lawyer assisting, Scott Robertson, and all parties will make representations.

The commission would then consider the facts privately and write a draft, with any suggestions and conclusions.

There is no timeline for how long this might take, and each investigation is different, mitigating factors like length, topic and difficulty.

Overall, ICAC is open to rendering allegations of significant corrupt conduct and forwarding evidence to the Public Prosecution Officer to take prosecution, corrective proceedings, or further investigation.

In the past, it also referred matters to the police forces of AFP, ASIO, Australian Taxation Agency, Border Force and other nations.

Annual updates from the commission give insight into where previous inquiries landed.

High-profile losses

In 2018-19, it made 57 findings of significant unethical activity and called eight individuals for advice from the Public Prosecution Director.

Recent Premier Barry O'Farrell resigned after his facts following "huge memory fail."
Recent Premier Barry O'Farrell resigned after his facts following "huge memory fail."

Yet previous investigations warn us the inquiry process will trigger more waves than the result itself.

Perhaps the highest-profile result was former Premier Barry O'Farrell 's 2014 resignation over Penfolds Grange's now notorious $3,000 bottle.

Ex labor ministers Tony Kelly
Ex labor ministers Tony Kelly (L), Eddie Obeid Snr, and Joe Tripodi engaged in extreme unethical conduct.

Mr O'Farrell denied getting the gift from Australian Water Holdings executive Nick Di Girolamo during his ICAC evidence, but when the commission uncovered a handwritten thankyou note he resigned citing a "major memory loss."

However, when the ICAC study was released three years later, Mr O'Farrell was not negatively affected.

Instead, former labor ministers Eddie Obeid Snr, Joe Tripodi and Tony Kelly, along with political staffer Gilbert Brown, were found involved in severe unethical behaviour.

Another former premier, ironically ICAC's "father," Nick Greiner, also fell prey to the watchdog on graft,

Nick Greiner,
Nick Greiner, ICAC's "father," dropped off corruption watchdog.

It shone the spotlight on his decision to give former education minister Terry Metherell a job, which would allow him to leave Parliament and make room for the Liberals to regain his byelection seat.

Although the Court of Appeal later reversed findings against Mr Greiner, he was forced to resign after it was apparent he had lost the confidence of key independents.

ICAC turned spotlight

Previously, the watchdog faced criticism in public hearings that would not be admissible in court.

Probes unravelled on appeal, following an attempted public hearing at the then lawyer Margaret Cunneen SC on claims of a drink-driving test on her son's mother.

In the High Court, Ms Cunneen had her name cleared, which found the ICAC violated its jurisdiction by misinterpreting its own regulating act.

ICAC was considered to have overtaken Margaret Cuneen 's claims.
ICAC was considered to have overtaken Margaret Cuneen 's claims.

However, weighing the number of convictions obtained as a result of ICAC probes was described as a "imperfect measure" of the commission 's success due to its investigative existence.

In a 2015 ICAC study, Barrister Bruce McClintock SC wrote that the proportion of unethical results actually represented in criminal prosecutions was "relatively poor."

"In particular, the difference between prosecutions and allegations of unethical activity shows eloquently the basic contrast between an ICAC investigation and its role and the criminal justice system and its intent and that of the criminal trial," he wrote.

The public spectacle produced by Mr Maguire 's case may close, but the procedure is far from over.

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