ICAC commissioner responds to PM ‘kangaroo court’ label

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An anti-corruption watchdog has taken an extraordinary swipe at critics of ICAC – including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

An anti-corruption commissioner has taken an extraordinary swipe at critics of ICAC in NSW – including Prime Minister Scott Morrison – labelling them “buffoons”.

Stephen Rushton SC, one of three Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioners, said describing the agency as a “kangaroo court” was offensive, misleading and untrue.

“Those buffoons who have repeatedly described this as a kangaroo court, to make uninformed comments, has a real capacity to undermine the commission‘s work,” Mr Rushton told a parliamentary inquiry.

He described it as a mischaracterisation of the agency, saying ICAC served a very diffent function to the courts.

Mr Rushton said public trust in institutions would be eroded if that kind of language was continually used in public forums.

Mr Rushton did not use the Prime Minister’s name, but it was clear from his language the inference he was making.

Mr Morrison does not support a federal ICAC – or at least not one that resembles the NSW version.

“I have seen the lives destroyed by a commission such as that, which becomes a kangaroo court and goes around and seems to operate through politics and shaming people,” the Prime Minister told reporters last month.

Mr Morrison has used the term repeatedly after backflipping on his plans to establish a federal integrity body, an issue that separates the two major parties in the run up to the election.

During the ICAC inquiry into former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in October 2021, Mr Morrison described her treatment as a “pile on” and “an absolute disgrace”.

The Labor Party has committed to establishing a federal ICAC if it wins the upcoming election.

Mr Rushton will finish up with ICAC in just a few months after five years in the role.

ICAC chief commissioner Peter Hall backed up Mr Rushton’s position during Monday’s committee meeting.

He said if the agency’s critics understood the function of ICAC they would understand they were “simply wrong”.

“Occasionally, there is misguided and unfounded criticism of one or more in our community of the commission’s powers and its work,” he told the inquiry.

“Whatever the motive or the purpose behind such criticism may be, a proper understanding of the legal conditions, processes of the oversight safeguards, will reveal to the misguided critic that he or she is simply wrong.”

Originally published as ICAC commissioner responds to PM’s ‘kangaroo court’ sledge

Read related topics:Scott Morrison

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