Raising the BARR – Week ending 16 October 2020

Raising the Barr

Person A, Person B & ICAC

Imagine for a moment a story about two people that we will call Person A and Person B. Let’s imagine that these two people work together and get on pretty well with each other. And let’s imagine that they are both public servants.

In this story, let’s imagine that over the course of time Person B reveals to Person A that they are using their position, as a public servant, to bring some type of personal benefit to themselves. Or perhaps Person A simply sees and hears things that make them a bit unsure about what exactly Person B is up to and concern about whether Person B is possibly misusing their position.

For 400,000 public servants across NSW, they have a duty to report possible corrupt conduct (i.e. use public office to bring about personal gain). It might be that they are paid with a free leg of ham at Christmas time, or a paid carpark to use free of charge as they choose or perhaps even some type of cash payment.

Under the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Act, a public servant in NSW is prohibited from using their position, as a public employee, to gain personal benefit. This is referred to as corrupt conduct, or more simply, corruption. The responsibility to report, known as a “duty”, is found in the ICAC Act at Part 3 (11) under the heading “Duty to notify Commission of possible corrupt conduct”.

A public servant would have to report possible corrupt conduct even if it were a first-year apprentice who believed his/her boss was involved in the suspicious behaviour, or whether it was two best-mates that had grown up together, or whether it was people who only met each other on very rare occasions.

The spirit of ICAC law is all about proactively doing the right thing; reporting too much rather than reporting too little. As a Member of Parliament, I am very clear about my responsibility to report possible corrupt behaviour, be that behaviour that is from a person that is friend or foe.

ICAC exists for the very singular purpose of receiving information about possible corrupt conduct and then investigating that information. If no one reports, then ICAC doesn’t need to exist. Public servants simply MUST report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or uncertain about a fellow colleagues conduct.

A HSC Year Like No Other

As our Year 12 students head into the 2020 HSC it is an understatement, but important to note, that their final year of school has been disrupted. I wish all students and their families the very best over the next couple of weeks as the HSC unfolds.

But my annual message is that the HSC is not the be-all and end-all of your life journey. What is far more important than the HSC that you are about to sit is a commitment to lifelong education. Beyond this year you will need to keep learning, keep educating yourself and keep broadening your horizons by seeking out new information and listening to those who know things that you don’t.