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S. Australia to Get New Anti-Corruption Watchdog
Source: news.ninemsn.com.au
Source Date: Monday, October 24, 2011
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Australia
Created: Oct 24, 2011

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has broken with the past in calling for a new corruption watchdog, saying it would make the government more open and accountable.

Mr Weatherill announced on Monday the government would establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), similar to those operating in other states.

It marks a major departure from the stand taken by his predecessor Mike Rann, who long opposed a state-based ICAC as a waste of money.

It also goes further than previously announced plans by the government for a smaller Office of Public Integrity.

The new premier said the ICAC would have a budget of $32 million over five years and would answer only to state parliament in the form of an annual report.

It will have its own team of investigators and will hold most of its hearings in private.

"I want to make sure that we are presenting to the South Australian people a government that is open and accountable," Mr Weatherill told reporters.

"I want to make sure that we maintain public confidence in government at all levels.

"The vast majority of South Australians play by the rules, and they've got to know that their public officials are also playing by the same rules.

"I believe that good governments have nothing to hide."

Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said the government's decision to back an ICAC was underfunded, with the Liberals pledging to spend $18 million a year.

"Premier Weatherill has finally acknowledged the public perception that corruption exists within South Australia," Ms Redmond said.

But she said South Australians deserved a strong, dedicated ICAC that would restore the integrity of public office, and not just another layer of bureaucracy.

The decision to have an ICAC was endorsed at the premier's first full cabinet meeting which also confirmed plans to legislate a code of conduct for all MPs.

Mr Weatherill said he had told his cabinet colleagues on Monday that service to the community was the single guiding principle behind all of their work.

"That involves listening, but it also involves acting," he said.

"I want to get a new sense of urgency about the mission that we have."

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