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SA's first anti-corruption commissioner fires up over major changes

Then-ICAC Bruce Lander (right) appearing before a 2020 inquiry with Frank Pangallo MLC (left)

South Australia's first Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, Bruce Lander has confronted the proponent of changes to recently-passed ICAC powers in a parliamentary inquiry.

Former Commissioner Lander called for SA-BEST MP, Frank Pangallo, who chairs a committee examining the performance of the office of the Independent Commissioner of Corruption to recuse himself.

Lander’s tenure in the role ended last September and the former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia believes Pangallo must take steps to remove himself from his duties as a result of bias, telling the inquiry:

"I'm asking him to recuse himself because of a perception of apprehended bias."

Pangallo responded by declaring he had no intentions of recusing himself despite the strong remarks directed at him by Lander.

"This is a parliament, not a courtroom...I have absolutely no intention of recusing myself."

Sweeping changes were approved in parliament to the operation of the anti-corruption agency which required Lander to appear before the committee Pangallo chairs.

Pangallo introduced the changes which passed both houses largely unchallenged last week.

The Member of the South Australian Legislative Council and former journalist said his bill fortified the functions of the ICAC to focus only on matters of serious and systemic corruption.

"Anti-corruption and integrity agencies have a critical role to play in our society because serious corruption and misconduct in our public sector must not be allowed to flourish unchecked.”
"However, after eight years of substantial expenditure, secret investigations, underwhelming results, controversy and criticism, changes to the way ICAC functions are appropriate."

However, current ICAC and former Supreme Court of South Australia Judge Ann Vanstone slammed the recent changes, telling the same inquiry during the SA-BEST bill's passage through parliament last week:

“The first thing about this bill, which hits one in the eye, is that the shelter for politicians, that is parliamentary privilege, is to be built into a 20-foot immediate aim seems to be to protect themselves from scrutiny."

Commissioner Vanstone also told the inquiry the passage of the bill meant parliamentarians were not interested in having an ICAC.


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