The Liberals and Nationals have voted down urgent funding increases for the Independent Commission Against Corruption and taken the unprecedented step of sending the Budget directly to the Governor, against the wishes of the Upper House.
Labor joined with crossbenchers this week in the Legislative Council to increase ICAC funding in this year’s Budget by $7.3 million – an amount that would simply match inflation – but this much-needed measure has today been rejected by the Government in the Legislative Assembly.
The NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “This is critical funding for our corruption watchdog and I’m very concerned the Premier has rejected it.
“The Government has gone against the will of the Parliament and against the public interest.
“Given the Premier’s admission that taxpayer funds are commonly used for political purposes in her Government and to ‘curry favour’, it’s critical ICAC has the resources it needs to investigate corruption.”
The Government’s rejection of ICAC’s funding follows evidence Ms Berejiklian failed to report corrupt conduct to ICAC, breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct, manipulated a quarter of a billion dollar grant program, had her office shred documents proving her involvement in rorting grants and breached health guidelines to self-isolate while awaiting COVID-19 test results.
“The Premier has lost the trust of the community, we need to fund ICAC properly to restore integrity to politics in NSW,” Ms McKay said.
The $7.3 million increase reflects the funding ICAC should have had in line with inflation.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Adam Searle condemned the Government’s actions.
“Not only has the Government rejected a critical funding increase for ICAC, they’ve bypassed the Upper House to take this straight to the Governor,” Mr Searle said.
“The Government has chosen not to return the Budget bills to the Upper House, instead taking the extraordinary step of simply presenting it to the Governor for assent.
“This is extraordinary, unprecedented and unprincipled behaviour from a Government that has given up on integrity.
“Twenty-four members of the Legislative Council voted for this, every member but for the Liberals and Nationals.
“The Government has gone against the will of the Upper House and the interests of the community.”