Integrity Commission


Allegations of Government interference unsubstantiated: investigation finding

An Integrity Commission investigation has cleared Premier, the Hon Will Hodgman, and the Minister for Health, the Hon Michael Ferguson, of interference in the dismissal of a Cricket Australia employee.

The investigation considered allegations that the Premier and Mr Ferguson exerted undue influence on either Cricket Tasmania, Cricket Australia or both organisations, leading to the sacking of Cricket Australia employee, Angela Williamson, in June last year, and that they had subsequently made false public statements about the matter.

In a summary report tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament today, the Commission found that:

  • all allegations were unsubstantiated, and
  • the Board of Cricket Tasmania had withdrawn its support for Ms Williamson’s employment without active government involvement.

The report says there was no credible evidence to indicate that either the Premier or Mr Ferguson attempted to have Ms Williamson removed from her position.

“There may have been indications of discomfort, but ultimately it was an independent decision of the Board of Cricket Tasmania that led to Ms Williamson losing her job,” it says.

Ms Williamson’s employment with Cricket Australia was terminated following a series of tweets criticising the Government’s policy on abortion services and unrelated policy.

The investigation found that it was most likely the Cricket Tasmania Board had withdrawn its support for Ms Williamson because it had formed the opinion she had damaged her relationship with the Government. However, the decision was made independent of any Government involvement.

In September last year, it was announced that Ms Williamson and Cricket Australia had reached an agreement and Ms Williamson would no longer pursue legal action.

Media contact:
Mr Chris Carney
Director, Misconduct Prevention
1300 720 289

Complaint dismissed regarding Minister and departmental head

The Integrity Commission has dismissed a complaint alleging misconduct arising from a personal relationship between Minister Sarah Courtney and departmental head, Dr John Whittington, following an extensive assessment of the facts.

The Commission today tabled its assessment report (PDF, 528.8 KB) in State Parliament, in a departure from its usual practice of only tabling investigation reports. The Commission’s Board made the decision to table the assessment outcomes in the public interest.

The complaint related to the development of a relationship late last year between Ms Courtney (as then-Minister for Primary Industries and Water), and Dr Whittington as Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

The Commission found there was little likelihood of any improper conduct on behalf of the Minister or Dr Whittington, and that it would be an unjustifiable use of the Commission’s resources to investigate further.

The Commission’s report details the processes, evidence and outcomes of a review conducted by the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Jenny Gale; as well as investigations conducted by Damian Bugg QC, appointed by the Premier to investigate whether Ms Courtney had breached the Ministerial Code, and Leigh Sealy SC, engaged to determine whether Dr Whittington had breached the State Service Act.

The Commission concluded that the DPAC review had been independent and thorough, and that highly experienced, qualified and independent investigators had been engaged to conduct the two investigations.

In arriving at its conclusions, it considered:

  • materials prepared by DPAC staff relating to the review of relevant decisions by the Minister, as well as emails, credit card records and leave and travel arrangements, and
  • material prepared and examined by Mr Bugg and Mr Sealy as part of their investigations.

Allegations relating to the Premier’s response to the potential conflict of interest and his subsequent appointment of Ms Courtney to the Resources and Building and Construction portfolios were also dismissed, as Minister Courtney had been found to have no material conflict of interest.

The report noted that it was open for Mr Bugg to conclude that, while there was no material conflict of interest, the Minister had breached the Ministerial Code on the basis of a perception of conflict of interest albeit for a brief period between the relationship starting and her disclosing it to the Premier, and that this had not been a serious breach.

Media contact:
Michael Easton
Director, Operations
1300 720 289

International Women’s Day – Women’s Award Luncheon 2019

LGAT, TasCOSS and the Tasmanian State Service are partnering to host the International Women’s Day Award Luncheon on Friday 8 March 2019.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter, seeking to encourage, support and unify gender equality action around the world. The 2019 Tasplan Women’s Awards for Excellence will be presented at the lunch, recognizing outstanding contributions from women across Local Government, State Government and the Community Sector.

Events will be held in Hobart and Devonport. For more information and to register to attend, head over to the LGAT website.

Call for abstracts for the 7th Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference

Do you have expertise or research to share on public sector corruption risks and prevention strategies? Abstracts are now open for the Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference (APSACC) 2019.

APSACC 2019's overarching theme is Identifying challenges, finding solutions. The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC), the host of APSACC 2019, says  "We encourage submissions referencing case studies, academic research and good practice approaches that will advance knowledge of corruption risks and prevention strategies, with a focus on one or more key themes."

Submissions close at 5pm on Friday, 15 February 2019.

Visit the IBAC website for more information.

Joint communique from Australia’s anti-corruption commissioners

International Anti-Corruption Day is this Sunday, 9 December 2018. In recognition of this important day the Commissioners of the independent, anti-corruption and law enforcement integrity agencies in Australia have released a joint communique entitled United against corruption - Leadership is the key to corruption prevention. (pdf, 350.2 KB).

Investigation report on alleged misconduct by Adam Brooks MP tabled in Tasmanian Parliament

An Integrity Commission report (pdf, 1.3 MB) was tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament today on an investigation into misconduct allegations relating to former Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Trade and subsequent Minister for Mining, Mr Adam Brooks MP. The investigation arose from a complaint submitted in 2016 by the then Leader of the Opposition, Bryan Green.

The investigation has identified no evidence to support the allegations that Mr Brooks misused information or obtained an advantage for his private business, Maintenance System Solutions, in his public roles.  In addition, the report says Mr Brooks had no material conflict of interest in relation to his interest in Maintenance System Solutions, and consequently had not breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

However, the investigation found that Mr Brooks had ongoing involvement in the operation and management of Maintenance System Solutions while a Minister. As a result, he had not complied with a protocol established by the Premier to address Mr Brooks’ conflict of interest issues, and Mr Brooks had failed to accurately inform the Premier about the true nature of his involvement in the business.

The evidence showed that Mr Brooks deleted a number of Maintenance System Solutions emails in the evening of 9 June 2016 without advising the Premier or the Crown Solicitor that he had done so.

It was found that Mr Brooks had removed the emails due to genuine concerns about his family’s privacy, his ongoing marital proceedings and the protection of private business information; however Mr Brooks was also motivated by concern that the emails had potential to cause him political damage.

The investigation report indicates that Mr Brooks’ answers to questions on potential conflict of interest in Budget Estimates Committee hearings in June 2016 were outside the jurisdiction of the Integrity Commission Act 2009.

The Board of the Commission has determined to refer the matter to the Premier for action.

Allegations by Mr Green that the Premier had failed to properly manage Mr Brooks’ conflict of interest or facilitated a purposefully inadequate response to Maintenance System Solutions email-related conflict of interest issues were dismissed prior to the investigation.

Media contact:
Michael Easton
Manager Operations
1300 720 289

Integrity Commission insight improves targeting of misconduct prevention work

The Integrity Commission’s focus has become more targeted due to the depth of understanding it has developed about misconduct risks in the Tasmanian public sector, CEO Richard Bingham says.

“Our work over many years has now given us insights that have enabled us to refine our focus to address areas of greatest need. This is reflected in strong public sector response to our programs,” he says.

The Commission experienced a high level of investigation and prevention activity in the past year, with complaint numbers increasing by over 50% from 2016–17, and more than double the number of face-to-face education sessions delivered and high levels of demand for online education programs.

“We tabled significant investigation reports and have worked closely, in particular, with TasTAFE and Glenorchy City Council to provide follow-up education and training that addresses issues that were identified.”

Mr Bingham says that the Commission has prioritised continuing misconduct risk identification, which will provide a vital base for future investigative and preventative work.

Highlights of the year include:

  • Dealing with 193 misconduct complaints (446 allegations), compared with 126 complaints the previous year. The most common type of allegations were code of conduct breaches.
  • Concluding 49 assessments of complaints and 12 investigations, including two own-motion investigations. Seven investigation reports or report summaries were published.
  • Completion of a ground-breaking own-motion investigation into public sector management of misconduct. In response to findings, the Commission launched a new education program – Managing and Investigating Workplace Misconduct. It quickly become one of the most in-demand programs, with more than 146 employees from 22 organisations participating.
  • Another new program, focusing on ethics for managers, has also experienced high levels of take-up across the State.
  • Adoption of new monitoring procedures to address progress made by public sector organisations on recommendations made in investigation reports, as well as any action taken in response to complaint referrals.
  • In addition to helping facilitate education sessions with each rotation of the Tasmania Police recruitment and sergeant qualifying program, the Commission, for the first time, ran education sessions for Tasmania Prison Service correctional officer recruits.

Mr Bingham says the Commission has also developed a more transparent approach, publishing regular online updates of progress on assessments and investigations, as well as including a greater level of detail about them in the annual report.

“We recognise we have an obligation to tell people about our work and we aim to share as much information as we can. However, we must balance that against the necessity to conduct investigations without prejudice and in accordance with principles of natural justice.”

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
18 October 2018

Media contact:
Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention Education and Research
1300 720 289

Investigation clears former Minister and staff member of misconduct: report released in the public interest

The Integrity Commission has dismissed allegations against former Minister for Human Services, the Hon Jacquie Petrusma, and her chief of staff after an investigation found that no misconduct had occurred.

In an investigation report for Operation Ireh, tabled in State Parliament today, the Commission dismissed the original complaint and allegations that arose in the course of the investigation into the former Minister and her then-chief of staff, Suzie Jacobson.

Integrity Commission CEO, Richard Bingham, said despite the fact that the allegations had been dismissed, the Board had decided to release the report as the investigation related to governance and processes at the highest level, making it a matter of significant public interest.

The investigation was conducted following a complaint from the Hon Josh Willie MLC that a member of the Minister’s staff had attempted to improperly influence the way in which then-Commissioner for Children and Young People, Mark Morrissey, performed his role.

The report said that while it was clear that a misunderstanding had arisen between Ms Jacobson and the Commissioner, none of the four allegations against Ms Jacobson were found to have amounted to misconduct or any breach of relevant legislation.

The investigation found that communication problems between Ms Jacobson and Mr Morrissey had contributed to the misunderstanding. It concluded that the relationship had not always been harmonious and had deteriorated over time.

The investigation also found no factual basis for the allegations that Ms Petrusma adversely affected the performance of the Commissioner’s powers or failed to respect his apolitical role.

“While the interaction between the ministerial office and the Commissioner was robust on occasion, it did not prevent him from doing his job properly. However, the investigation serves to highlight the way in which the roles of ministerial staffers and statutory officers differ,” Mr Bingham said.

“Ministerial staff members have a particular responsibility to assist their minister and, like other public servants, they are bound by requirements of their code of conduct contained within their terms of appointment. Statutory officers provide an independent view in the interests of the broad community, not just sectional or political interests, and it is important that they can carry out their role freely, as Parliament intends when it creates such offices,” Mr Bingham said.

Mr Bingham said that the substantive investigation had been completed by the end of last year but release of the report had been delayed due to the time needed to complete the procedural fairness process required under the Integrity Commission Act 2009, the necessity to seek legal advice to clarify an aspect of the legislation in regard to tabling reports queried by the parties, and the fact that Parliament did not sit until after the recent election.

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
4 July 2018

Media contact:
Michael Easton
Manager Operations
1300 720 289

Review recommended for legislation on public sector information misuse

The Integrity Commission has recommended that consideration be given to a review of offences relating to public sector information misuse to bring Tasmania into step with jurisdictions in other states.

In a report tabled in State Parliament today, the Commission says it has conducted an own motion investigation triggered by the recognition that technological advances have increased the risk of public sector information abuse and it is necessary to better understand how Tasmanian public sector organisations manage information and associated risks.

Tasmania Police was selected as the subject of the investigation, given that the Commission has a legislative requirement to provide oversight of any matters relevant to police misconduct. Unauthorised access to information has been identified as a misconduct risk area in the Commission’s previous audits of police misconduct and has been recognised in other Australian police services. Additionally, the fact that Tasmania Police relies on information to a greater degree than many other public sector organisations and has a responsibility to investigate potentially criminal allegations against public sector employees made it particularly relevant.

The Commission found that in most respects Tasmania Police meets good practice standards, and commends the organisation for its commencement of audits of information access by police officers, improvement of relevant sections of the Tasmania Police Manual, and the establishment of a new conduct and complaints management system. However, the Commission notes that Tasmania Police should be more prepared to enforce its policies and procedures when investigating allegations of information abuse.

A review of offences for unauthorised access to and misuse of information elsewhere in Australia, conducted as part of the investigation, indicated that Tasmania’s options were more limited. The Commission has recommended that the Premier review the existing offences of ‘Disclosure of Official Secrets’ and ‘Unauthorised Access to a Computer’ to clarify or better align them with equivalent offences in other jurisdictions.

“It is a question for the Parliament of Tasmania as to whether it should be easier to prosecute public sector employees for serious information abuse in this State,” the report says.

The report acknowledges the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who agrees that it would be useful to clarify the existing uncertainty in regard to interpretation of offences under the Tasmanian Criminal Code and Police Offences Act.

“The purpose of the investigation was to better understand how Tasmania Police manages information and associated risks. However the outcomes and the issues raised provide extremely valuable insights for other public sector organisations and for the Commission in continuing to work on raising levels of public integrity,” Chief Executive Officer, Richard Bingham, said.

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
20 June 2018

Media contact:
Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
1300 720 289

Glenorchy City Council investigation: 56 findings arising from conflicts of interest

An Integrity Commission investigation has found that two senior officers and an alderman at Glenorchy City Council had conflicts of interest that improperly benefitted the officers.

In a report tabled in State Parliament today, the Commission made 56 findings arising from allegations relating to General Manager, Peter Brooks; General Counsel, Seva Iskandarli; and Alderman Stuart Slade – who was Mayor for some of the period. None of the three are now with the council.

Evidence from 2013-2016 showed that Mr Brooks, Ms Iskandarli and Ald Slade had been strong allies. The investigation related to conflicts of interest and attempts to improperly gain pecuniary benefits, potentially as high as almost $1 million. Their conflicts of interest had resulted in Mr Brooks and Ms Iskandarli obtaining salary increases, promotion and contractual amendments providing financial gain.

In one instance, Ald Slade was instrumental in influencing a performance assessment method, resulting in Mr Brooks receiving an $18,000 performance bonus that he would not otherwise have obtained.

Mr Brooks and Ms Iskandarli had advantaged each other during processes relating to employment conditions and salaries. This included Ms Iskandarli withholding information from the General Manager’s Performance Review Committee.

The report said that the loyalty between Mr Brooks, Ms Iskandarli and Ald Slade existed at the expense of objectivity or the best interests of the council. Attempts by Alderman Kristie Johnston in 2015 and Alderman Matthew Stevenson in 2016 to raise conflict of interest concerns had resulted in “fervent opposition and strong personal criticism, particularly from Ald Slade”.

The Board of the Commission has referred the investigation’s findings to the Director of Local Government, Alex Tay, and to the Mayor, Kristie Johnston. It has asked Mr Tay to consider whether or not the misconduct constitutes offences under the Local Government Act 1993.

Also tabled within the same document are findings of two associated investigations arising from a complaint that the Glenorchy City Council Board of Inquiry had lacked fairness, and that the Board of Inquiry’s draft report had been leaked to media outlets and had therefore corrupted the inquiry process.

The Commission found that the allegations regarding fairness lacked substance and that the leaking of the report did not appear to have negatively affected the process. It dismissed both complaints.

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
22 May 2018

Media contact:
Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention Education and Research
1300 720 289

Own motion investigation

As was reported today, the Commission is currently undertaking an own-motion investigation into the policies, practices and procedures of a particular organisation in relation to unauthorised access to, and/or misuse of, information by its employees.

It’s important to understand that this investigation is not responding to specific allegations of misconduct.

It is being undertaken in fulfilment of the Commission’s misconduct prevention responsibilities, because unauthorised access to and/or misuse of information is a key misconduct risk area in most public sector organisations.

The issue is a current and developing focus of integrity entities throughout Australia.

Although the focus of this investigation is on one organisation, it is intended that it will result in broader learnings applicable across the public sector.

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
21 May 2018

Media contact:
Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention Education and Research
1300 720 289

More accuracy required in MP disclosures of interest

Declarations made by Tasmanian MPs for the Parliamentary Disclosure of Interests Register are still lacking an appropriate level of accuracy and information, according to the latest Integrity Commission report on its monitoring of the register.

Administrative non-compliance in returns for the register has continued to be an issue, the report says.

The Commission found that of 25 forms submitted by MHAs and 14 from Legislative Councillors, only one returned a fully-compliant form.

Errors or omissions ranged from insufficient information relating to sources of income, to interests in real estate or dispositions of property, to interests and positions in corporations and disclosures relating to travel and gifts. The great majority of the errors were a result of not using the correct terminology as required by the disclosure form, and a failure to complete all parts of the form. This leads to uncertainty for the Commission in its review of the actual interests held by Members.

The Commission has been working with the Department of Premier and Cabinet on a new reporting form, designed to make it easier for MPs to provide full, accurate information in preparing declarations.

This is the second year in which the Commission has publicly reported on its monitoring of the register. The report represents a more forensic review of Members’ disclosures and the register’s operation.

Independent verification of Members’ disclosures, along with increased public access to and scrutiny of the register, contributes to public confidence in the transparency of parliamentary processes, and are important components of parliamentary integrity.

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
2 May 2018

Media contact:
Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention Education and Research
1300 720 289

Response to Australia Institute Report

This morning the Australia Institute released a discussion paper comparing Tasmania’s Integrity Commission with the NSW ICAC.

We were not given an opportunity to comment on the paper. It contains some factual errors, and ill-informed speculation about how we apply our jurisdiction and the matters we may or may not be investigating. It also contains opinions with which the Commission does not agree.

For example, the paper evaluates our performance on investigation of systemic issues without acknowledging the two substantial reports which we published in December 2017, on misconduct in Tasmanian public authorities, and the Fox Task-Force. The focus of both those investigations was plainly systemic.

The Commission was reviewed comprehensively in the 5 year review conducted by Hon William Cox AC RFD ED QC, which reported in May 2016. We hope an incoming government will speedily implement the recommendations which remain outstanding from that report.

Fox program investigation findings

In a 252-page report, the Commission found:

  • no direct evidence of fabrication or falsification of evidence by any employee of either the Fox Free Taskforce or its successor, the Fox Eradication Program;
  • no evidence that any employee of either program knowingly relied on false information to support continuation of the program; and
  • no evidence to suggest that the then-Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment and the Minister for Police and Emergency Management, the Hon David Llewellyn MP, had a conflict of interest while holding the dual portfolios.

The investigation identified that while there were administrative and management issues, they were not indicative of misconduct.

The report says the original taskforce began in a challenging environment and struggled with public credibility, and was subject to criticism fuelled by scientific and professional scepticism, concerns about public expenditure and a lack of accurate public knowledge of events as they occurred.

Other issues included internal program scepticism about evidence, with employees frustrated by the waste of time and resources in following up false information and a resulting reluctance to publicly release details of hoaxes because of concerns about copycat potential.

In addition, employees identified a poor workplace culture in the early stages, linked to the rapid program start-up and difficulties in recruiting necessary technical, investigative or professional expertise.

The transition of managers and staff through the program resulted in inefficiencies and difficulties in implementing change, inconsistencies, internal conflicts, and concerns that operational procedures – particularly relating to collection of fox scat evidence – were not adequately addressed.

A significant aspect of the program’s operating environment was that management and resourcing decisions were based on ‘the precautionary principle’, a biosecurity risk management approach. The principle stipulates that, where there is risk of serious or irreversible harm, lack of evidence should not prevent an immediate and reasonable response to the risk

The Integrity Commission Board has referred the investigation report to the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment for action. Given the findings, the Board made no specific recommendations for action but has emphasised the need to ensure that such programs are better managed in the future.

Media contact:

Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention, Education and Research
1300 720 289

Investigation report recommends legislative changes for misconduct accountability

An Integrity Commission investigation report released today has recommended legislative changes to ensure that Tasmanian public sector employees who commit misconduct are made accountable.

The report, detailing findings of a two-year own motion investigation into management of misconduct in State and local government, has recommended that the State Service Act 2000 be amended so that Tasmanian State Service agencies can make disciplinary findings after an employee has resigned.

It also calls for changes to the Archives Act 1983 guidelines to:

  • ensure that State and local government authorities keep written records for seven years of proceedings and action in regard to serious misconduct, whether substantiated or not; and
  • amend guidelines to require that public authorities maintain a confidential register of all alleged and suspected misconduct by public officers.

“It is essential that, in line with jurisdictions elsewhere, the State Service has the legislative basis to take appropriate measures when there has been misconduct and the individual leaves,” Commission CEO, Mr Richard Bingham, said.

“It is also important that proper records and a confidential register exist across the public sector so that misconduct-related patterns by individuals are addressed and not moved on to another organisation.”

Mr Bingham said the release of the Integrity Commission investigation report and associated educational resource marked the beginning of a concerted effort to improve misconduct management across the board through collaboration between the Commission and the sector.

“The report highlights both strengths and shortcomings and is a Tasmanian first in taking a comprehensive snapshot of practices and policies. I am confident it will lead to improved practices.”

The Commission investigated 12 State and local government organisations, selected as a representative cross-sector of those in its jurisdiction. It examined their capacity and ability to deal with misconduct and conduct internal investigations.

“It was clear that there is some good work happening. However, the findings provide a clear signal that all Tasmanian public sector agencies are capable of taking their approach to the next level,” he said.

The Guide for Management of Misconduct in the Tasmanian Public Sector, also released today at the Hobart event, is a resource targeted to needs identified in the report. The Commission will undertake associated public sector training in early 2018.

It has also flagged that it may undertake a similar own motion investigation in the future to gauge improvements.

Media contact:
Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention Education and Research
1300 720 289

Why doesn’t the Integrity Commission confirm or deny what it is working on?

Recent media reports have questioned whether the Commission should comment on whether an investigation is underway.

Three reasons why organisations like the Integrity Commission do not generally confirm or deny what they are working on are:

  • if we are conducting an investigation, confirming this fact publicly will prejudice our ability to successfully complete it. People may destroy evidence or be influenced by others
  • lodging a complaint with us can be a deliberate smear tactic. We do not agree with these tactics, and we don’t want to encourage them by confirming that we are investigating
  • the privacy and reputations of people who are complained about need to be respected.

The Commission carefully considers all received complaints. If we decide to investigate, we will publish a report when the investigation is complete, and when we believe it is in the public interest to do so. We also publish statistics about complaints and outcomes.

We may comment on matters that have been discussed by others on the public record – for example, where the facts have been misrepresented.

When we have completed an investigation into a complaint that has been discussed publicly, the subject of the complaint will be advised of the result.

Richard Bingham

14 September 2017

New era of accountability for Tasmanian public sector

An independent community survey shows that Tasmanians expect responsible business conduct from their public sector organisations, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the Integrity Commission, Richard Bingham.

“We’re in a new era of accountability and our community has every right to expect ethical practices and behaviour in the public sector,” he said.

In the latest survey, conducted by an independent research company last month, the majority of those surveyed (59%) indicated that since the establishment of the Integrity Commission in 2010 the Commission had increased the level of accountability across the public sector, which includes the State agencies, local government and government businesses.

There was also an increase in those who responded that there was now more attention on ethical behaviour in the public sector – 72% compared with 61% in a similar survey conducted in 2015.

“Our strong misconduct prevention program, combined with complaint handling and investigations activities, is increasingly having an impact,” Mr Bingham said.

Almost all respondents around the State (93%) agreed that Tasmania needs an Integrity Commission and a greater number were aware of the Commission’s role in relation to the honesty and integrity of the public sector (82% compared with 73% in 2015).

The majority of respondents (89%) had the view that Tasmania’s public sector was as vulnerable to unethical behaviour as the public sector elsewhere in Australia and that there would always be some dishonesty, unethical behaviour and corruption in Tasmania (86%).  Encouragingly, most respondents (84%) were of the view that the majority of people in Tasmania’s public sector were honest.

Not all the survey results were positive. Of concern is that around two thirds of respondents (65%) agreed that people who disclose corruption or unethical behaviour are likely to suffer because of speaking up.

Additionally around one half of respondents (49%) did not have confidence that people in the Tasmanian public sector would be caught doing something dishonest or unethical.

“It is clear that there is work to be done to support the Tasmanian public sector in building confidence in their systems and processes for identifying misconduct risks, receiving complaints and then managing those complaints of misconduct and unethical behaviour appropriately,” Mr Bingham said.

“As a result, we will bring greater focus to these aspects of capacity building within the public sector, including how to support complainants in the process,” Mr Bingham said.

A total of 600 adults were interviewed by phone for the survey which was commissioned by the Integrity Commission. Download the research report (PDF, 1.7 MB).

Media contacts:

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
1300 720 289

Teresa Banman
Manager Misconduct Prevention, Education and Research
1300 720 289

Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2017

Registrations are now open for the Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2017 in Sydney.

Join more than 70 local and international leaders and practitioners in corruption mitigation and exposure. Increase your understanding and capacity to enhance and maintain corruption resistance in your organisation. Register before 15 August 2017 to receive the early bird discount. Visit the APSAC website to register.


Conference - 15th and 16th November 2017
Pre-conference workshops - 14th November 2017

Report on allegations of misconduct by TasTAFE executives


Greg Melick AO SC
Chief Commissioner
23 May 2017

An Integrity Commission investigation has presented factual findings relating to allegations that two senior TasTAFE executives were involved in serious misconduct that resulted in improper financial and career advantages.

In a report tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament today, the Commission outlines evidence that TasTAFE Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Conway, had given current Deputy CEO/Chief Operating Officer, Lori Hocking, preferential treatment based on a conflict of interest and without appropriate authority.

This commenced during Ms Hocking’s initial recruitment (as Division Manager) and involved salary increases of $55,000 in the first 12 months after her appointment, and an ‘incentive payment scheme’ worth approximately $30,000 in benefits beyond Ms Hocking’s contractual entitlements. These included a commitment of a $6000 bonus on each anniversary of her appointment, payments for regular travel between Hobart and Ms Hocking’s home base of Adelaide, and rent for Hobart accommodation.

The investigation found that Mr Conway had:

  • increased Ms Hocking’s salary without approval from the Head of the State Service;
  • misrepresented the nature of the incentives and additional payments;
  • created a Deputy CEO position to benefit Ms Hocking rather than the organisation’s needs; and
  • allowed her to use the Tasmanian Government Card for personal purposes.

In addition, the investigation found that a friend and professional colleague of Mr Conway and Ms Hocking’s was awarded an $18,000 contract without a competitive process, while Ms Hocking had unfairly advantaged friends and former colleagues in recruitment processes.

Mr Conway and Ms Hocking had a shared association through the South Australian company, VETNetwork, and both their families are based in Adelaide.

The investigation was triggered by an anonymous source through a third party.

The Tasmanian community needs to have confidence that its public sector organisations are acting ethically and can be trusted with the expenditure of public resources and if that is not the case, that something will be done about it.

The Board of the Integrity Commission believes that it is in the public interest for matters such as this to be made public. The Board has considered a range of criteria in determining whether to publish the details of the Commission’s investigations, however the public interest must prevail.

This investigation highlights the fact that the Integrity Commission is uniquely positioned and empowered to uncover misconduct that cannot be addressed through other accountability mechanisms.

The Board has referred the report to the Premier, the Hon Will Hodgman MP, with recommendations for a review of TasTAFE policies and procedures relating to the recruitment and induction of Senior Executive Service officers and for consideration of possible breaches of the State Service Code of Conduct by the two executives.

The Board has also recommended that a review be undertaken of induction information provided to members of public sector boards, particularly in relation to employment of senior executive officers.

The report, An investigation into a complaint of an alleged conflict of interest against senior executive officers of TasTAFE, is available for download.

Media inquiries

Michael Easton
(Acting) Chief Executive Officer
1300 720 289

Tabling of review of Parliamentary register of interests

The level of compliance by Members of the Tasmanian Parliament in making declarations for the Parliamentary Disclosure of Interests Register has increased, according to the Integrity Commission’s report on its review of the Register for the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016.

Despite the overall improvement, the report – tabled in Parliament today – shows there is still a degree of non-compliance by MPs in filling out the disclosure forms correctly and declaring all relevant information.

The Commission’s report indicates that there have been a number of instances where MPs have failed to insert a response relating to the declaration of any interests or positions that they might hold in corporations and trade unions, debts, dispositions of property, or contributions to travel and gifts.

“The non-compliance often relates to a failure to insert an answer to a question in the return form. While this may appear semantic, it is important that all questions are answered where required,” the Commission’s Acting CEO, Michael Easton, said.

“Our review has shown that the format of the return form may be partly responsible for MPs misunderstanding the required level of information that should be declared.

“Consequently, the Commission has recommended an improved form that better explains the information required. We understand that this is in the process of adoption by the Government as part of its review of the Parliamentary (Disclosure of Interests) Act 1996,” said Mr Easton.

The Commission notes that few MPs have found it necessary to complete an additional discretionary declaration relating to pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests that are not otherwise covered under the disclosure requirements of the Parliamentary (Disclosure of Interests) Act.

“Given that there is no separate conflicts of interest register for MPs, this section of the return is the main mechanism available for MPs to disclose interests that fall outside the mandatory reporting requirements of the Parliamentary (Disclosure of Interests) Act,” the Commission’s Acting CEO, said Mr Easton.

“The Commission’s view is that, where an MP identifies a potential conflict between her or his private interests and public duties, this must be declared, in keeping with the other mandatory declarations under the Act.”

Mr Easton said that the Commission’s role in monitoring the Register is not defined in the Integrity Commission Act. To date, the Commission has limited its reviews to observing whether the returns submitted by MPs comply with prescribed forms. This means that the full potential of the disclosure regime in enhancing accountability and trust has not been realised.

“The Commission will continue to monitor the Register and, in future, this may include verification of information disclosed by MPs and the tabling of further reports,” said Mr Easton.

Public sector Speak up shows promising results

A unique 10-year program to improve the Tasmanian public sector’s capacity to identify and address misconduct is showing promising results, according to an independent evaluation released today.

Employees of participating State and local government authorities have reported that the Integrity Commission’s Speak up program, commenced two years ago, is already having positive outcomes.  Three-quarters of those surveyed said the program was needed, while more than half reported that the program had led to an immediate and constructive impact on their attitude to workplace conduct and ethics.

“Through this program, public sector organisations are becoming better equipped to prevent misconduct and when it occurs, to deal with it quickly and effectively.  This is part of upholding the community’s trust in government”, the Commission’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michael Easton, said.

“It is all part of a broader approach to achieving a high standard of ethical health in public sector organisations”, he said.

However, about a third of the 1636 employees who responded to the survey said they did not have the confidence that reports of misconduct would be properly handled in their workplace or that the careers of those who report misconduct would be protected.

“This indicates a disparity between the aims of the program and what some organisations are currently putting into practice.  It also makes it all the more important to keep going with what, in effect, is a 10-year program to improve ethical behaviour and integrity”, said Mr Easton.

Mr Easton released the report in conjunction with Dr David Moltow, who led the University of Tasmania research team that conducted the evaluation.

The report indicated that 29 public sector authorities have adopted Speak up, with a further seven in the initial stages of participation. The degree of program implementation at this stage has been variable, with about 20% substantially implementing the program, and a further 50% achieving partial implementation.

The report highlights the important role of Speak up coordinators within the respective organisations. The results indicate that Speak up coordinators have identified significant barriers, including resistance from individuals or sections of the organisation, and insufficient support from senior management.

Dr Moltow said that, although the practical implementation of the program within public authorities had been less substantial than might have been hoped for, the program was still in the early stages of a progressive rollout.

“Cultural change takes time. This is a good start but it is essential that the program continues to build on this foundation through what has been learned in the evaluation and through the efforts of public authorities that take up the campaign”, said Dr Moltow.

“It is critical that the necessary support is provided at the highest level within each participating organisation to achieve the aims of the program”, said Dr Moltow.

“The survey shows that the Commission’s Speak up marketing and communication materials are effective and well-received. Participating organisations now need to provide the right support to their Speak up coordinators to help the process of integrating the Speak up principles and practices”, said Dr Moltow.

Mr Easton said the Commission is an Australian leader in developing a dedicated program for application across all levels of the public sector, inclusive of both State and local government.  The Commission has funded the program from its own operational budget and ongoing resourcing is required to provide the necessary support and promotion.

“This is the only Tasmanian program that aims to embed high ethical standards within the culture of all public sector authorities and the working life of employees; it needs to be resourced appropriately by participating organisations to continue to build upon the initial rollout”, he said.

In addition, it was essential that public sector leaders value and endorse Speak up as part of developing a stronger culture of integrity and contributing to the ethical health of their organisation.

The report, Fostering Integrity: Report on the implementation of Speak up in the Tasmanian public sector, is available for download.

Education package launched at forum for board members and directors

The Attorney-General, Dr. Hon Vanessa Goodwin MLC, recently launched a new Integrity Commission education package in response to an identified need for public sector board members to understand and manage ethical risks more effectively.

The package is a direct outcome of feedback from public sector board members concerned about how to recognise and address ethical issues. The launch on 9 February was followed by a forum, Ethical conversations – a Challenge for Boards?

‘We’ve been working closely with government businesses and authorities for some time and our research and interactions with their boards has shown there can be reluctance or apprehension at times to raise ethical issues or have conversations about them’, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michael Easton, said.

‘Members of public sector boards can benefit from ongoing education programs that raise awareness and skills in identifying and addressing ethical risk areas. Risks that are inadvertently overlooked can lead to significant and damaging problems; boards that have processes and cultures which encourage ethical conversations are better placed to manage those risks.’

The education package has been developed in conjunction with a reference group of experienced board members state-wide. The package includes flexible print and video resources for use in board meetings.

‘Supporting boards in this way is vital as they are pivotal in setting the tone for their organisation and its ethical culture’, Mr Easton said.

Over 110 new and experienced board members attended the launch and forum, including some from the not-for-profit sector. Independent economist, Saul Eslake, was the forum keynote speaker. Mr Eslake said that ethical frameworks are an integral part of the corporate culture of any organisation. He confirmed that ‘the responsibility for establishing and maintaining the “corporate culture” of any organisation starts at the top – with the Board’.

Mr Eslake's keynote speech is available for download.

24 Feb 2017

Are ethical conversations a challenge for boards?

The Integrity Commission in co-operation with the Australian Institute of Company Directors will be hosting a forum including a panel discussion for board professionals titled:

‘Ethical conversations – a challenge for boards?’

When: Thursday 9 February 2017 10am - 12pm

Where: Bahá'í Centre of Learning, 1 Tasman Hwy, Hobart

Cost: There is no charge to attend

To register: Send your RSVP online. Places are limited and registration is essential.

The forum is a direct response to the Commission’s work with the public sector, identifying a real interest in ethical conduct, both for new and experienced board members and directors.

The Commission’s education package for boards will be launched at the forum. Two key themes have emerged from discussions with the reference group involved in developing the package:

  • the importance of board members being aware of ethical issues affecting them; and
  • the need for boards to discuss ethical matters constructively

The Commission would like to express its gratitude to reference group members:

  • Don Challen AM
  • Lynn Mason
  • Dan Norton
  • David Hudson
  • Ged Dibley
  • Mary Bent
  • Sarah Merridew
  • Kerry Adby

for their significant contribution.

New video explores ethical risks for board members

As part of its soon-to be-released training package for board members,  the Commission recently shot a video scenario depicting the life of a board member over the course of a year. The video explores some of the key ethical issues that a board member can potentially face in her day-to-day life, including conflict of interest, use of information, gifts and benefits, interactions with staff and contractors, and speaking up.

Volunteer actors, including staff from from Taswater, RBF and the Commission, assisted with the shoot by filling supporting roles.

The training package will be launched at a forum for board members titled: Ethical conversations – a challenge for boards? The forum will be held from 10am – 12pm on Thursday 9 February 2017 at the Bahá'í Centre of Learning in Hobart. Register for the forum online by Thursday 2 February 2017.

21 December 2016

Draft Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament

A draft Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament was recently tabled by the Joint Standing Committee on Integrity. The Committee recommended that the Parliament adopt the draft code as a single code of conduct for all MPs.

The draft code has been a significant body of work for the Commission over a number of years. The need for codes of conduct was first raised by the Commission in the 2011 report, Codes of Conduct for Members of Parliament, Ministers and Ministerial Staff in Tasmania.

The Commission released an update report in December 2015 covering a number of issues relating to accountability measures for MPs. The report noted that there had been no substantive progress made in regard to codes for MPs nor ministerial staff, and that there has been no progress made in addressing earlier concerns regarding the parliamentary registers of interests.

The Commission provided a Summary Report to the Joint Standing Committee in May 2016, containing a detailed revision of the draft Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. It is this draft code that has been tabled by the Joint Standing Committee. The Commission consulted with the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, the Reverend Professor Michael Tate, in preparing the new draft code.

20 December 2016

The Commission's latest e-learning module: available now

The Commission's Respect and Protect Information e-learning module is now available. With interactive video scenarios and activities, the module engages employees and raises awareness of the key risks associated with information misuse in the public sector.

The module introduces employees to ‘CIPO’, the fictional ‘Confidentiality and Information Protection Organisation’. Employees become ‘agents’ for CIPO, and are tasked with an ‘assignment’ to uncover the source of a recent information breach.

The Commission has also developed user-friendly eBooks to help public sector employees and organisations respect and protect information.

Who: the module is relevant for all public sector employees

Cost: provided without charge for Tasmanian public sector organisations

Delivery: via the Commission's Learning Management System (LMS) or in an organisation's LMS

Enrolment: employees self-enrol with an enrolment key provided by the Commission

Reporting: regular enrolment and completion reports are provided to each organisation

Duration: takes participants between 30 - 40 minutes to complete

To provide the Respect and Protect Information e-learning module in your organisation, contact or call 6165 6867.

30 November 2016

'Integrity Matters' newsletter issue #4 available now

The Commission has published issue #4 of its bi-annual newsletter, 'Integrity Matters'.

'Integrity Matters' is available on the Commission's website.

25 November 2016

New research confirms the importance of whistleblowing law reform

Australia’s largest whistleblowing research project has released preliminary results confirming the burning need for comprehensive but well-informed reform of the nation’s whistleblowing laws.

The snapshot of whistleblowing processes and procedures across 702 public sector, business and not-for-profit organisations from Australia and New Zealand, was collected by the Whistling While They Work 2 Project between April and July 2016, and is the largest cross-section of organisations to participate in a single survey to date, anywhere in the world.

It is also the first survey to systematically compare self-reported evidence from organisations on their whistleblowing processes, across the public, business and not-for-profit sectors alike.

Whistling While They Work 2 involves Griffith University, Australian National University, University of Sydney and Victoria University of Wellington. It is supported by the Australian Research Council and 23 partners including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, CPA Australia, Transparency International Australia, and the leading public integrity agencies of all Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions, including launch host, the NSW Ombudsman.

Project leader Professor A J Brown, of Griffith University’s Centre for Governance & Public Policy, said the first results confirm the importance that organisations of all types are placing on processes for encouraging employees to report wrongdoing, but also point to areas of challenge to be focused on in the next stage of research, as well as in law reform.

Among the highlights:

  • 90% of organisations reported having processes for ensuring appropriate investigations or management actions in response to wrongdoing concerns raised by staff
  • 89% indicated they had formal, written whistleblowing procedures or policies, and
  • 76%, including 79% of private sector businesses, responded that they accepted anonymous wrongdoing concerns – i.e. acted ‘without requiring staff members to identify themselves’.

“This welcome result shows just how badly law reform is needed,” Professor Brown said. “Currently, narrow protections such as in Australia’s Corporations Act don’t even allow for anonymous reporting.”

“If our laws are to support the scale and diversity of organisations’ existing efforts to use whistleblowing as a tool of good governance, such results show they need fundamental reform.”

Other results point to key gaps:

  • 26% of businesses and 36% of not-for-profit organisations (23% of all organisations) had
    no particular system for recording and tracking wrongdoing concerns
  • 33% of businesses and not-for-profit organisations (23% of all organisations) did not currently have any strategy, program or process for supporting and protecting staff who raise concerns
  • 49% of businesses and 51% of not-for-profit organisations (38% of all organisations) indicated they did not assess the risks of detrimental impacts that staff might experience from raising wrongdoing concerns, either at all or until problems began to arise
  • Only 39% of businesses and 32% of not-for-profit organisations (46% of all organisations), provide potential whistleblowers with access to a management-designated support person inside the organisation as part of their response; and
  • Only 17% of businesses, 17% of public agencies and 13% of not-for-profits (16% of all organisations) have any mechanisms for ensuring adequate compensation or restitution if staff experience reprisals or other detriment after raising wrongdoing concerns.

“Even when trying hard to encourage their staff to report, too many organisations clearly lack the specific guidance and incentives they need to realise their own goals of actual protection,” Professor Brown said.

“Although most governments have modernised their whistleblowing regimes, the results point to a need for further reform and stronger oversight even in the public sector – but for the private and not-for-profit sectors, a well-informed legislative overhaul is now especially overdue.”

Review of Australia’s corporate whistleblowing laws is set to advance in 2017 as the first item in the Turnbull Government’s draft national action plan for the Open Government Partnership, revealed last week (31st October).

“The time has never been better for a comprehensive approach, rather than piecemeal extension in different regulatory areas – given that in at least 87% of businesses, reporting procedures already extend across a broad spectrum of reporting, such as fraud, corruption, abuse or mistreatment of customers, and health, safety and environmental dangers,” Professor Brown concluded.

Along with further analysis of the first survey, the next stage of the research includes a more in-depth phase, Integrity@WERQ, thanks to the ongoing cooperation of many participating organisations.

The full snapshot report is available on the project website.

For more details:

The project is supported in Tasmania by the Integrity Commission and Ombudsman Tasmania.

24 November 2016

Integrity Commission releases report into handling of complaints by Tasmania Police in 2015

The Integrity Commission, in its fourth annual audit of complaints finalised by Tasmania Police, has concluded that police handling of complaints is adequate and professional.

In a report tabled in State Parliament today, Report No. 1 of 2016: An Audit of Tasmania Police Complaints Finalised in 2015, the Commission says that there are still improvements to be made in key areas, including record-keeping, acceptance of complaints, timeliness and referrals to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Commission has acknowledged in the report that some of the desired improvements are likely to be addressed by Tasmania Police’s planned introduction of a new conduct management policy.

In particular, it is anticipated that the policy will significantly improve timeframes and strengthen the focus on organisational and professional development, as well as the needs of complainants.

This year’s audit of 123 individual complaints finalised by police in 2015 focused its analysis on several key issues.

The audit considered trends across complaints in the demographics of officers subject to complaint, and recurring complaints against the same officers. Both of these issues were identified as particularly useful for Tasmania Police in developing its prevention, education and training policies and procedures.

Importantly, the audit also reviewed allegations of excessive force. The audit showed that, of 108 allegations of excessive force listed on the police database and finalised in 2015, Tasmania Police made findings that 38 of the allegations were unfounded; 32 were exonerated (meaning that Tasmania Police found that force was used but
that it was justified and legal); 28 were not sustained; five were withdrawn; four were dismissed; and one was sustained.

“The Commission’s view is that all allegations of excessive force are serious, even if the alleged force was minor. Police have unique powers to legally use force, and it is vital that allegations of a misuse of those powers be subject to external scrutiny,” Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michael Easton, said.

“While we did not address whether the findings of Tasmania Police were justified, the analysis undertaken as part of the audit has helped to identify particular risk areas in relation to the use of force, and this will assist Tasmania Police to identify training and resource needs.”

“The analysis we conducted is valuable from our oversight perspective and for Tasmania Police purposes. However, we believe that it would be easier and more efficient to perform this kind of analysis if we had direct access to the police IAPro complaint database,” said Mr Easton.

Access to the database was requested as part of the five-year independent review of the Integrity Commission Act 2009, conducted earlier this year.

Mr Easton said that the Integrity Commission’s continuing independent oversight of complaints received by Tasmania Police was an important part of maintaining public trust and confidence in police handling of misconduct allegations. This is particularly important given the limited amount of information made publicly available by Tasmania Police regarding complaints about police.

The report is available from the Commission’s website.

Download the media release.

17 November 2016

Upcoming webinar: 'Respect and Protect Information'

As public sector employees, we have access to confidential information on a daily basis. Our employers, the government and the public trust us to handle this information carefully and appropriately.

Carelessness, complacency and deliberately using information for personal benefit can have disastrous effects: on the organisation, the employee, and the individual whose privacy was breached.

Join us for the ‘Respect and Protect Information’ webinar where we will explore:

  • The main risk areas for information misuse in the public sector
  • Consequences of misuse, both for individuals and organisations
  • How to effectively manage the risk within your organisation

Mr Greg Johannes, Secretary of Department of Premier and Cabinet, will provide a brief introduction to the topic. We’ll also introduce our latest e-learning module, ‘Respect and Protect Information’, which will soon be available to Tasmanian public sector organisations and public officers (pictured right).

When: Wednesday 23 November 10 - 10:30am

Who should attend? The webinar will be of broad interest to employees and managers in all functions.

Cost: there is no charge to attend the webinar, but places are strictly limited and registration is essential.

To register: visit the Training Consortium website


2015-16 annual report shows a growing acceptance of the Commission's role

The work of the Integrity Commission in the past year has confirmed its vital role for the Tasmanian community, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michael Easton, says.

“Our annual report, tabled in State Parliament today, demonstrates growing acceptance of the Commission and increasing public sector willingness to work for mutual benefit and ultimately, the good of the community,” said Mr Easton.

The value of the Commission was reinforced earlier this year by findings of the Independent Five Year Review into the Integrity Commission Act 2009, by former Governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Hon William Cox AC RFD ED QC.

“There has never been a greater need for an independent body such as the Commission to facilitate accountability and oversight. Elected members and employees in the public sector face continuing and emerging misconduct risks. In addition, while many in the public sector are operating to high ethical standards, the reality is that ongoing education, handling of complaints and investigations is required,” Mr Easton said.

The annual report shows increasing take-up of the Commission’s training modules, advisory services and campaigns developed to address ethical risks and misconduct. Local government, in particular, has a high level of engagement with training.

The Commission in 2015-16 developed and released its IntegrityHub e-learning environment and related resources in response to needs identified by public sector employees. It has been strongly supported due to its flexibility and strong focus on practical and relevant tools for achieving ethical conduct.

During the same period, the Commission also completed its own motion investigation, Operation Kilo, identifying systemic failures in the policies and practices of State Service agencies regarding gifts and benefits. The Commission’s work has resulted in public sector agencies adopting specific policies for the management of gifts, and being publicly accountable for their gift registers.

The Commission dealt with 111 complaints for the period, conducted an annual audit of complaints finalised by Tasmania Police in 2014 and began 15 audits of actions taken by other public authorities in dealing with complaints of misconduct.

“We also directed considerable resources to preparing a comprehensive submission to the independent five-year review,” Mr Easton said.

The Integrity Commission Annual Report 2015-16 is available from the Commission's website.

Download the media release

26 October 2016

Statement from Chief Commissioner on Five Year Review of the Commission

The five-year Independent Review of the Integrity Commission Act 2009 has reaffirmed the valuable role and function of the Integrity Commission and provided certainty for the future in meeting objectives of the legislation.

Recommendations by the Independent Reviewer, the Hon William Cox AC RFD ED QC, contained in the report tabled by the State Government in Parliament today, address many of the issues that the Commission has raised in recent years.

Since it was established in 2010, the Commission has developed a ‘co-operative independence’ in its work with the public sector in functioning as a positive influence and an agent for change.

To do this, it must work with public sector agencies and other entities to achieve an ethical culture in Tasmania. This involves a two-pronged approach: misconduct education and prevention as well as dealing with misconduct where it may arise.

The Commission’s ability to fulfil its functions, however, is limited by its capacity. The Commission strives to meet its educational and investigative responsibilities in a timely manner, given its current staffing and resources. This issue is magnified by the outcomes of the Mr Cox’s review.

As Mr Cox has stated in the report: “The Commission’s written submissions in relation to resources … speak for themselves. I respectfully urge the Government to give them full consideration”.

The Commission supports the majority of the report’s 55 recommendations. Specifically, the Commission supports 38 recommendations and supports in-principle a further 12 recommendations.

In terms of the recommendations with which it supports, the Commission would like to draw attention to its support of recommendations for:

  • the Board to take a more active role in the management and operation of the Commission, such as through issuing workplace guidelines as it may consider appropriate;
  • the introduction of a new accountability measure applying to the Commission’s exercise of its coercive powers and monitoring of this by the Board. The recommendation is that coercive notices be signed by the Chief
    Commissioner on behalf of the Board as an important ‘check-and-balance’ for the use of these important and occasionally confronting powers;
  • linked to the above, that, at assessment stage of complaints, the Commission only have power to require the production of information or records relating to a matter and any requirement for interviewing witnesses or subject officers would be limited to matters that have progressed to an actual investigation;
  • the requirement that public sector agencies notify the Commission of serious misconduct and misconduct by designated public officers; this helps the Commission to monitor misconduct risks and trends, and to monitor
    investigations undertaken by other agencies; and
  • Parliament to consider adopting the Model Codes of Conduct for Members of Parliament and Ministerial Staff, as previously provided by the Commission.

We are pleased that Mr Cox has addressed concerns expressed during the review about timeliness of the Commission’s operations. While we note that many delays in dealing with matters are beyond the Commission’s control, we agree that assessments – the first step in what may eventually become an investigation – should be completed within 40 working days. This may be extended by the Board in particular circumstances.

The Commission has respectfully a differing view on five recommendations, two of which relate to one issue:

    The Commission’s current requirement is to focus on matters involving serious misconduct and also to refer matters involving suspected breaches of the law to Tasmania Police. Mr Cox has reaffirmed that the Commission should, as far as is practicable, confine its activities to investigating serious misconduct and general misconduct by designated public officers. However, he has recommended [recommendation 16] that any matters involving serious misconduct that includes a suspected criminal offence by public officers be immediately referred to Tasmania Police. The effect of this is that the Commission loses jurisdiction over such matters, as the Act does not currently provide for the Commission to do anything further with matters referred to another agency.
    The Commission is aware that police are often unable or unwilling to deal with referrals of complaints of serious misconduct that may amount to criminal offences. It is not the core business of police to deal with such allegations, which are often complex, time-consuming and may be politically delicate. The Commission has been specifically established as an independent body with coercive powers to deal with these kinds of matters, and should be allowed to fulfil its objectives.
    The Commission has a different view to Mr Cox on whether it should be able to refer matters for prosecution to the Director of Public Prosecutions on completion of an investigation. [Recommendation 17]
    I note that the Commission may still refer matters to Tasmania Police, however our view is that we need to retain the ability to refer matters directly to the DPP, particularly in matters which may directly involve police officers. We believe that removal of this provision from the Act undermines the potential to maximise outcomes of the Commission’s work.
    3. and 4.
    The Commission has always sought to operate efficiently and effectively in achieving the objectives of the Act. To this end, the Commission has found that complaints of misconduct against designated public officers, such as senior State servants and local government elected members and senior officers, are not always best investigated by the Commission, particularly where they involve lower level officers or complaints about minor forms of misconduct.
    The Commission’s view [recommendation 26 and associated recommendation 28] is that it should have the discretion to refer such complaints to other entities better placed to deal with the matter, for example local government code of conduct panels established under the Local Government Act.
    The Commission has always complied with principles of procedural fairness. This has included ensuring that people who may the subject of an investigation are given the opportunity to respond to the investigator’s draft findings before the matter is considered by the Board of the Commission.
    Mr Cox, however, has recommended [recommendation 14] that the findings of an assessment – a process undertaken to refine and initially test the allegations of a complaint – should also be provided to the subject of the complaint where the assessment report is forwarded to a public agency for investigation and action.
    The Commission considers that providing material from an assessor’s report to a public officer subject to a proposed investigation by a public authority could jeopardise that investigation. This is particularly an issue with referrals of matters involving suspected criminal conduct to Tasmania Police, where further confidential investigative action may be required.

It is ultimately a decision for Government as to which recommendations are adopted for action.

The Commission looks forward to working constructively with the Government to implement recommendations of the report and determine appropriate legislative responses.

Download this media statement as a PDF

Five-year Review: Report of the Independent Reviewer

The Commission's response to the recommendations of the independent reviewer

24 August 2016

New video resources available

We have just released three new video resources for use by Tasmanian public sector organisations.

The videos are ideal for use in staff induction, training workshops and in team meetings. Public sector organisations are welcome to embed the videos in their presentations, on intranets and in e-learning environments. Contact us for more information on how to use the videos in your organisation.

Upcoming webinar - 'Code secrets: how to turn your code of conduct into a positive change agent in your workplace'

A code of conduct is one of the many things we just ‘have to have’ in the public sector. But are our codes of conduct just another compliance ‘tick’?  Can a code of conduct deliver real value to employees, managers and organisations?

This webinar takes a contemporary look at the role of codes of conduct in the modern workplace, including:

  • elements of an effective code of conduct
  • how effective codes look and operate
  • examples of good and not-so-good codes
  • how an effective code can deliver real value in public sector organisations

This webinar will help ‘blow the dust’ off your existing code of conduct, or get you well underway if you’re creating a new code. We’ll be sharing ‘code secrets’ from our experience across the public sector and help you unlock the potential for positive change in your organisation.

Who should attend?

  • Any public sector employee or manager who has a role (or interest) in codes of conduct and workplace ethics.
  • Managers and heads of organisations who want to improve, better implement, or create a code of conduct.
  • Employees who have an investigations or coordination role around code of conduct issues.

Facilitator – Nic D’Alessandro (Integrity Commission)

Nic is the Manager, Misconduct Prevention, Education and Research with the Commission. Nic will be sharing from his experience in developing, improving and consulting on codes of conduct across the local government sector, public sector agencies and businesses, and to Parliament. Nic has worked in management roles in the public sector, the education sector, and as a company director and business operator in the private sector.

Webinar details

Tuesday 2 August 10 – 10:30am

The webinar is offered free of charge by the Commission, but prior registration is essential. Register now.

No special software is required: the webinar runs in an internet browser. All you need are headphones/headset/speakers, internet access, and a quiet workspace.

Whistleblowing in the spotlight at event

Representatives from Tasmanian public sector organisations attended a whistleblowing presentation last week, led by Professor AJ Brown from Griffith University. As the leader of the largest current research project into whistleblowing, Professor Brown outlined jurisdictional approaches to whistleblowing, and common difficulties faced by public sector organisations. Professor Brown also discussed the ‘Whistling While They Work 2’ research project, which will examine managerial responses to whistleblowing and their effects within organisations.

Professor Brown invited public sector organisations to participate in the research and outlined the shared value of the planned outcomes. Further information on the project and details of how to participate are available on the project website.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Michael Easton, provided an overview of the current state of Public Interest Disclosures (PIDs) in Tasmania. Mr Easton said that there had been only 26 PIDs made since the PID Act came into operation in 2002, which was symptomatic of broader issues regarding organisational culture, regulatory capacity and whistleblower treatment.

Mr Easton also discussed the Commission’s Speak Up campaign, which works alongside PIDs, with the aim of changing the culture of silence around public sector misconduct. Since its release in September 2014, over 40 public sector organisations from across the state have adopted Speak Up. For more information on Speak Up, please contact the Commission.

8 June 2016

Upcoming webinar: 'Code secrets: how to turn your code of conduct into a positive change agent in your workplace'

A code of conduct is one of the many things we just ‘have to have’ in the public sector. But are our codes of conduct just another compliance ‘tick’?  Can a code of conduct deliver real value to employees, managers and organisations?

This webinar takes a contemporary look at the role of codes of conduct in the modern workplace, including:

  • elements of an effective code of conduct
  • how effective codes look and operate
  • examples of good and not-so-good codes
  • how an effective code can deliver real value in public sector organisations

This webinar will help ‘blow the dust’ off your existing code of conduct, or get you well underway if you’re creating a new code. We’ll be sharing ‘code secrets’ from our experience across the public sector and help you unlock the potential for positive change in your organisation.

Who should attend?

  • Any public sector employee or manager who has a role (or interest) in codes of conduct and workplace ethics.
  • Managers and heads of organisations who want to improve, better implement, or create a code of conduct.
  • Employees who have an investigations or coordination role around code of conduct issues.

Facilitator – Nic D’Alessandro (Integrity Commission)

Nic is the Manager, Misconduct Prevention, Education and Research with the Commission. Nic will be sharing from his experience in developing, improving and consulting on codes of conduct across the local government sector, public sector agencies and businesses, and to Parliament. Nic has worked in management roles in the public sector, the education sector, and as a company director and business operator in the private sector.

Webinar details

Tuesday 2 August 10 – 10:30am

The webinar is offered free of charge by the Commission, but prior registration is essential.

No special software is required: the webinar runs in an internet browser. All you need are headphones/headset, internet access, and a quiet workspace.

‘Whistling at work: can it be done?’ The current state of public interest disclosures

The Commission invites heads of public sector organisations and public officers who have an interest in public interest disclosures/whistleblowing to attend a lunch-box presentation with Dr A J Brown, professor of Griffith University, on Thursday 2 June, 12:15 - 1:30pm at the Bahai Centre Of Learning, Hobart.

‘Whistleblowing’ is a contentious topic, evoking confusion and angst, as processes are often misunderstood. Yet it has great potential to assist in developing ethical workplace cultures and practices.

Dr Brown is a former senior investigator for the Commonwealth Ombudsman and is also a member of the board of directors of Transparency International. His research has had a major impact on the design of public integrity systems and whistleblowing law reform around Australia and internationally.

Dr Brown will discuss:

  • jurisdictional approaches to whistleblowing practices and legislation;
  • the current whistleblowing landscape and the complications with public interest disclosures; and
  • common difficulties faced by public sector organisations.

Dr Brown will also discuss the ‘Whistling While They Work 2’ project and outline key findings from the initial ‘Whistling While They Work’ research undertaken 2005 – 2009.

A light lunch will be provided.

While there is no charge to attend, prior registration is required for catering purposes. Please register by emailing

Places are limited.

Latest issue of 'Integrity Matters' now available

The latest issue of 'Integrity Matters' is now available on the Commission's website. 'Integrity Matters' is published twice a year. To subscribe to this newsletter, please complete the online subscription form.

9 May 2016

A new code of conduct for councillors

The Integrity Commission recently worked with the Local Government Division of the Department of Premier and Cabinet on the development of the new model code of conduct for councillors, which forms part of a new local government code of conduct framework. The Local Government Amendment (Code of Conduct) Act 2015 commenced on 13 April 2016.

The new model code prescribes the standard of behaviour that all Tasmanian councillors are required to meet when performing their role. The Integrity Commission had substantial input into developing the new code.

We believe that the code is a positive development for both the local government sector and the Tasmanian community as a whole.

The new provisions are available at

22 April 2016

Conflict of interest risk still a major concern

The Integrity Commission is calling on the Tasmanian public sector to do more to manage misconduct risks arising from conflict of interest.

Commission Acting CEO Michael Easton, said that, despite significant work by the Commission and some public sector organisations, a quarter of complaints received since July 2014 related to allegations arising from conflicts of interest and this trend appears to be continuing.

“Unfortunately, there appears to be a prevailing view in Tasmania that conflict of interest is not a big deal. Our investigations and prevention work show this is far from the case – it is one of the most common risk factors for misconduct and is a real concern for the Tasmanian community”, Mr Easton said.

The Commission has identified a persistent pattern of issues where conflicts of interest that were not avoided or properly managed have resulted in a risk of, and in some instances actual, misconduct.
These include inappropriate financial advantage, procurement preferences, acceptance of significant gifts from suppliers, favouritism in recruitment, and use of public position to benefit associates or family members. Significant complaints alleging conflict of interest have been investigated by the Commission over the past three years.

“Our investigation and report into two Tasmanian Health Organisations, for example, was the catalyst for significant changes in conflict of interest policies and procedures in our health system”, Mr Easton said.

The Commission has worked with the public sector – both State and local government – to develop extensive support material for dealing with conflict of interest, from template policies and procedures, to workplace resources, training modules and in-house assistance.

“Our resources, advice and consultancy assistance are available to all public sector organisations in Tasmania. We have seen some constructive use of our services in government departments; state authorities and businesses; and in various councils. State Service agencies, for example, are working together to streamline their policies to make them easier to understand and use, including the use of common terminology and definitions”, Mr Easton said.

However, while there is some good work happening, policy and awareness work across the public sector is slower than it should be, and more needs to be done.

“Some public sector organisations do not have a conflict of interest policy, and in some instances where policies do exist, there is a lack of understanding of appropriate strategies for avoiding or managing conflict of interest in an ethical way”, said Mr Easton.

A common misconception is that, because Tasmania has a small population, it is an issue that is either impossible or unnecessary to avoid.

“In our experience, the opposite is true – the smaller the community, either at state or regional levels, the better the management of conflict of interest must be”, Mr Easton said.

“Conflict of interest has the potential to undermine public trust in state and local government decision-making and services. The Commission will continue to work in collaboration with public sector leaders to further develop and maintain the highest standards of integrity”, Mr Easton said.

Information and resources for the public sector about conflict of interest are available on the Commission's website.

8 April 2016

Exciting year ahead in ethics education

The Commission is offering an even greater range of ethics education options in 2016.

Our popular Practical Ethics in the Public Sector (PEPS) face-to-face workshops are back, plus we’re providing PEPS in a live online workshop format for the first time. The live online workshops will be available to all public officers and a special version for teams leaders/supervisors will be on offer later this year.

Our first PEPS workshop (face-to-face) is in Hobart soon and registrations are open now. The workshop is relevant to public sector employees in all types of roles. Explore what ethics means in the context of your work. Learn how to make good ethical decisions and handle ethical dilemmas.

When: 9:30am – 1pm, Wednesday 16 March (light refreshments provided)

Where: Seminar Room 103, IMAS, 20 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point

Cost: $65 (GST incl)

Early registration is essential at The Training Consortium.

Our new e-learning workshop - Ethical decisions at Work
- is now available to all public officers (through their public authorities). Learners have 24/7 access to interactive and engaging learning on ethics as they apply to each learner’s workplace and role. See our Ethical Decisions at Work page for more information.

New modules are in development for release in 2016. The modules will cover use of work information (including confidentiality, security and privacy); ethics for board members and directors; and ethics for leaders and managers. We’ll announce the availability of the modules as they’re released through the year.

Look out for our webinars during the year as well. We have some engaging and interesting topics to share with you. We’ll announce these on our website and with our partners at The Training Consortium.

Contact the Misconduct Prevention, Education and Research team to discuss your public authority's training needs.

2 March 2016

Correction of incorrect media reporting re Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances

The Commission advises that some media outlets have today (2 March 2016) reported that the pay rise for Members of Parliament in Tasmania was ‘recommended by the Integrity Commission’. This is incorrect. The Integrity Commission has no such functions or powers in relation to Members of Parliament (MPs) or any other elected members or public officers under its jurisdiction. Reports and recommendations into Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances for MPs are managed by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission.

2 March 2016

Five year review of Integrity Commission commenced by State Government

The State Government has commenced the five year review of the Integrity Commission, in accordance with s 106 of the Integrity Commission Act 2009. The review is being undertaken by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and former Governor of Tasmania, the Honourable William Cox AC, RFD, ED. The review is being facilitated through the Department of Justice, and is independent of the Integrity Commission.

For further information on the review, and to make a formal submission, please contact the Department of Justice on , or visit the Department’s website.

15 January 2016

Integrity Commission prompts further action on parliamentary accountability measures

Tasmania’s Integrity Commission today released a progress report on the implementation of accountability measures for State Parliament.

“Despite two major reports calling for the introduction of robust codes of conduct and the passage of several years, Tasmania’s Parliament is still without a comprehensive ethical framework,” Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michael Easton, said today.

The earlier landmark report, Public Office is Public Trust, by the Joint Select Committee on Ethical Conduct, was released in 2009.

While the introduction of a specific ministerial code of conduct based on recommendations in a 2011 Commission report proposing a set of model codes had been pleasing, no substantive progress has been made in relation to codes of conduct for members of Parliament or ministerial staff.

In the progress report released today, the Commission identified that:

  • a formal, publicly accountable code of conduct for members of the Legislative Council is lacking;
  • the existing system of including requirements for conduct of ministerial staff in instruments of appointment lacks transparency; and
  • there are some improvements to the parliamentary registers of interests, as recommended in Public Office is Public Trust, that remain outstanding.

“The aim of our progress report is to serve as both a reminder of these important matters and a prompt for further action.

The report consists of a brief comparative review, across all Australian jurisdictions, of the currently applicable codes and registers of interests, and identifies accountability gaps in our parliamentary ethical framework,” said Mr Easton.

“While it is pleasing that Tasmanian ministers now have a more specific ethical framework, the Government needs to address other accountability gaps to ensure that the community can be confident in its expectations of conduct in the parliamentary environment,” Mr Easton said.

The Commission looks forward to working further with the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Integrity, the Parliament and the Tasmanian Government to build a suite of accountability mechanisms that would establish the state as a national leader on this issue.

Download the report:

Enhancing Accountability Mechanisms for Members of Parliament and Ministerial Staff: A Progress Update

Earlier reports:

Codes of Conduct for Members of Parliament, Ministers and Ministerial Staff in Tasmania, 2011

Joint Select Committee on Ethical Conduct 'Public Office is Public Trust' 2009

18 Dec 2015

The Commission launches its latest e-learning module

The Commission has released its latest workshop, 'Ethical Decisions at Work - online workshop'.

The workshop is an online version of the Commission's foundational module, which assists public authorities to meet their minimum ethics training requirements under the Integrity Commission Act 2009. The workshop covers codes of conduct and how ethical principles and obligations apply to employees, as well as their rights and obligations. It includes relevant information on the Commission and its role in relation to employees, managers and public authorities.

Learning is customised according to the employee's role, making the learning activities relevant, engaging and memorable. The online workshop is also customised for each public authority with specific workplace documents embedded, presenting employees with their relevant code of conduct and key policies. Employees then apply these documents throughout the workshop.

The online workshop is provided free of charge to Tasmanian public authorities.

A recording of the online launch of the module is available on the Commission's website.

Contact the Misconduct Prevention, Education and Research team for further information on how to register your public authority for the workshop in 2016.

18 December 2015

Commission report reveals steady improvement in Tasmania Police complaints handling

Tasmania Police has shown improvements in its complaints handling processes over the last three years, according to an Integrity Commission report tabled in State Parliament today.

“Outcomes of this year’s audit of complaints investigated by Tasmania Police, along with its prompt, proactive response to the recommendations of the 2014 audit, show that it is an organisation aspiring to the highest standards of integrity,” the Commission’s Acting CEO, Michael Easton, said.

The report on the Commission’s third annual audit of complaints and misconduct investigated internally by Tasmania Police under the provisions of the Police Service Act 2003 (Tas) found that the majority of systemic or organisational issues raised in complaints were being recognised or dealt with by Tasmania Police, and that there had been a marked improvement in timeframes for registering complaints.

The report findings also highlighted two key opportunities for further improvement, in the consistency of policy and practice in accepting and registering complaints, and in complaint record keeping on the electronic case management system.

“The Commission acknowledges that the role of police in the community is vital and can be difficult. What we are seeing with these audits, and the improvements in police complaints processes since they began, is the value of external oversight,” Mr Easton said.

“It is essential that the public sector is transparent and accountable to the community, and that the community is confident that there are checks and balances on the exercise of police powers, which is why the Commission’s role is important.”

The Commission’s audit reviewed 109 complaints that were finalised in 2014. The audit occurred with the full cooperation of Tasmania Police. The report reviews the adequacy of investigations into allegations of misconduct made against police, and includes detailed case studies to illustrate some of the key issues.
Tasmania Police was given an opportunity to comment on a draft of the report. The Commission gave consideration to the Tasmania Police response and altered the report where appropriate.

“Although Tasmania Police does not agree with all the Commission’s key findings, it has accepted or agreed in principle to the report’s three recommendations,” Mr Easton said.

Under the Integrity Commission Act 2009 (Tas) the Commission has the power to undertake audits of the way the Police Commissioner has dealt with misconduct.

Download Report No 2 of 2015, An Audit of Tasmania Police Complaints Finalised in 2014

18 November 2015

Commission tables 2014–15 Annual Report

The latest annual report of the Integrity Commission again demonstrates that it is delivering on its most important mandate of ensuring that Tasmanians can have trust in government.

The Integrity Commission today tabled its Annual Report for 2014–15 in Parliament and the report outlines key achievements of the Commission during the year.

Significant achievements by the Commission included:

  • Completing several comprehensive investigations into a range of misconduct risks, including: conflict of interest; the receipt of gifts and benefits; and nepotism. The Commission also undertook numerous audits of investigations undertaken by public authorities as a result of referrals of a complaint by the Commission.
  • Receiving 132 complaints, the most ever received, and an increase of over 16% from 2013–14. The complaints contained 478 allegations of misconduct, of which the great majority related to breaches of codes of conduct, and the dishonest or improper exercise of a power.
  • Continuing its oversight of complaint handling by Tasmania Police, with the undertaking of the third annual audit of police complaints. This year the Commission reviewed 109 files, and the report is to be tabled in Parliament in mid-November 2015.
  • Influencing State Government practices and procedures in relation to nepotism and conflict of interest in the State Service. This largely resulted from the outcomes of Operation Delta (Investigation Report No. 1 of 2014: nepotism and conflict of interest by senior health managers in the then Tasmania Health Organisation). This investigation revealed conflict of interest and subsequent non-compliance with public sector procurement and recruitment policies.
  • Completing a large-scale investigation into the declaration of gifts and benefits in the State Service: Operation Kilo (now finalised as Report No. 1 of 2015: own-motion investigation into policies, practices and procedures relating to receiving and declaring of gifts and benefits). The Commission’s investigation revealed a poor understanding of, and adherence to, policies relating to gifts and benefits. The Commission has recommended a model policy for the management of this misconduct risk, based upon a default position of ‘thanks is enough’.
  • Significantly increasing engagement with the local government sector, including interaction with all 29 councils and delivery of training to councillors and staff in many councils across the state.
  • Continuing the development of the ‘Ethics and Integrity Training Program’: three modules have been released, each addressing a specific ethical risk area, including use of work resources, social media, and ethical decisions for outdoor workers. Twenty six public authorities requested a total of 160 individual module packages for in-house delivery in 2014–15.
  • Production and online release of three video scenarios for Tasmania Police and three video scenarios for councillors. The Commission’s video scenarios have been used over 1,500 times in 2014-15 for training and individual use – including use in other jurisdictions.
  • Launch and initial rollout of ‘Speak up’: this campaign was developed to support employees to report misconduct in the workplace. ‘Speak up’ includes a range of print, web, and video resources that public authorities can customise to their context. Twenty seven public authorities have implemented ‘Speak up’ to 30 June 2015.
  • Managing its budget in accordance with the Government’s saving strategy, which resulted in a reduction of $500,000 (to $2.4 million) in 2014–15. The Commission operated within this constraint by reducing costs, reducing full-time-equivalent staffing, and by closely monitoring the quantum of complaints taken forward into assessment and investigation.

The Commission will continue its dual roles of investigating and preventing misconduct for the benefit of all Tasmanians; both are necessary and both are what the community expects of a body such as the Integrity Commission.

Read the media release

Download the 2014-15 Annual Report

27 October 2015

Commission publishes second issue of 'Integrity Matters'

The Commission has published the second issue of its newsletter 'Integrity Matters,' which provides updates on the Commission's investigation and education activities, and commentary on key ethical risk areas.

'Integrity Matters' is published twice per year.

Read current and previous issues of 'Integrity Matters.'

21 October 2015

Departure of Chief Executive Officer

The Board of the Integrity Commission announces, with regret, the departure of the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms Diane Merryfull, on 16 October 2015.

Ms Merryfull has been CEO since August 2012. Under her leadership, the Commission has established itself as an essential and respected contributor to an ethical and accountable Tasmanian public sector. The Commission is conducting high quality and important investigations and producing well regarded misconduct education and prevention tools. It has skilled staff who are making a difference to the standard of ethics and integrity in public authorities and giving the public confidence that misconduct will be dealt with appropriately.

The Board congratulates Ms Merryfull on her significant achievements as CEO and wishes her all the best in the future.

Ms Merryfull is retiring from full-time work and returning to Canberra.

Download the media release

6 October 2015

‘Thanks should be enough’ – Integrity Commission report on gifts and benefits in the State Service

The Integrity Commission today tabled in Parliament a report of a 12 month investigation that found a systemic failure across the State Service agencies to adhere to proper practices, policies and procedures in relation to employees receiving gifts and benefits.

This failure not only gives rise to the risk of misconduct occurring but also to the risk of the State Service developing a culture of entitlement to gifts and benefits.

Of particular concern to the Commission was the presence of gift giving in high-risk areas such as asset management and procurement.

It is known from experiences interstate that taking gifts can create an environment where public servants can be influenced, or where suppliers and stakeholders perceive that they can be influenced.

“This report is not about blaming individual public servants – it is about the system. Agencies are failing their employees, leaving them without the clarity, training and support they need in dealing with gifts and benefits,” Commission CEO, Diane Merryfull, said.

Some employees who were interviewed by the Commission felt vulnerable to poor decision-making, in the absence of adequate policy.

The Commission’s investigation examined policies and guidelines on gifts across all agencies and audited them against applicable mandatory policies and instructions and against good practice. The Commission also examined all available agency gift registers (over the period of 2011-2014).

The investigation revealed that there was a fundamental problem with the current policy, which in practice allows employees to take gifts provided those gifts are declared. This policy relies on employees and their managers understanding when there may be a conflict of interest in taking a gift. The investigation showed that this understanding was very much lacking and there was widespread poor decision-making as well as non-compliance with even the basic requirement to make a declaration.

“If current guidelines and policies allow employees to take thousands of dollars of gift cards or expensive electrical items – as uncovered by this investigation – then there is something seriously wrong. But even the practice of accepting low-value gifts is an ethical risk and agencies need to take this seriously” Ms Merryfull said.

Information obtained from companies supplying to government revealed a consistent and inappropriate level of gifts and benefits being offered to and taken by public servants.

“The public would be rightly concerned about just how widespread gift giving and receiving is in the State Service – particularly where these gifts and benefits are coming from those who want to do business with government. Those companies that can’t or won’t give gifts would also be concerned that they may be being disadvantaged.”

The Commission made five recommendations to improve policies and practices. This included a recommendation that agency gift registers be made publicly available. The Commission has produced a model policy, declaration form and gift register, based on emerging good practice drawn from its extensive research.

“The current ‘receive and declare’ approach is just not good enough when it comes to the ethical standards that the community expects of public servants. The Commission recommends a ‘no gifts policy’ as the best policy – best for employees, best for agencies and best for the public interest” said Ms Merryfull.

“Public servants should not expect to get anything extra for doing the job that they are paid to do – except for the thanks of the community.”

“A key role for the Commission is to set standards and improve community confidence in the public sector. This report is part of how we are fulfilling that responsibility,” Ms Merryfull said.

In developing the report’s finding and recommendations, the Commission has reviewed and strengthened its own policies and practices. It has also developed education resources to assist all public authorities and public officers in Tasmania to better understand and manage misconduct risks with gifts and benefits.

Download Operation Kilo Investigation Report

Read the media release

Access gifts and benefits education resources

22 September 2015

Tasmanians strong on need for the Integrity Commission

Tasmanians continue to believe that Tasmania needs an Integrity Commission, according to a recent survey of community perceptions.

"Public support for an integrity body in Tasmania remains strong," Commission CEO, Diane Merryfull, said.

Releasing the results of the Commission's latest community perceptions survey, which was conducted by an independent research company, Ms Merryfull said that 92% of respondents agreed that the State needs an Integrity Commission (89% in the 2013 survey).

Significantly, more than 60% said that since the Commission had been established in 2010, there was more focus on ethical behaviour in Tasmania's public sector.

Ms Merryfull said that the survey results demonstrated that the Tasmanian public did not believe that Tasmania was somehow immune to the corruption and misconduct exposed in other jurisdictions – 87% of those surveyed agreed that public sector employees in Tasmania are just as likely to behave unethically as public sector employees anywhere else in Australia.

"Clearly the Tasmanian community believes there is a need for the work of the Commission and recognises that it is proving effective. Those who argue that the Commission is not needed are way out of step with the wider community."

Ms Merryfull said there was a heartening reduction in the number of people who believed there was no point in reporting corruption or unethical behaviour because nothing would be done (down 8% from 2013).

In May 2014, the Commission released a major report about its investigation of nepotism and conflict of interest in the public health sector.

"This survey result indicates that public reporting of Commission investigations increases community confidence in the integrity of the public sector. It reassures the community that misconduct will be exposed by the Commission and that those who engage in it will be appropriately dealt with," Ms Merryfull said.

"This is why the Commission is essential to ensuring trust in government."

The Commission's Speak up campaign is also contributing to public confidence with 31 public authorities implementing the program since its launch late last year – including six government departments, 12 councils and 13 other public authorities such as government businesses and bodies.

"The Tasmanian community expects a high level of honesty and integrity in the public sector. The Integrity Commission is the only body focused on raising public sector ethical standards, through its unique mix of investigation and education," Ms Merryfull said.

"Despite the challenges the Commission has been presented with, we are undeterred and remain committed to serving the public interest and the Tasmanian community."

A total of 600 people across the state were surveyed in May 2015, as part of research to gauge shifts in attitudes to the standards of conduct and propriety in the Tasmanian public sector and awareness of the Commission's role and the type of complaints it deals with.

Read the full research report

1 September 2015

Chief Commissioner Hon. Murray Kellam AO releases statement

The Chief Commissioner of Tasmania's Integrity Commission, Hon. Murray Kellam, has called for greater support for the Commission at the highest levels of government.

In a statement released to mark his departure at the end of a five-year term as the inaugural Chief Commissioner, Mr Kellam said the Commission had been welcomed by the Tasmanian public and was proving effective despite major obstacles in its way.

These included the State Government's decision to make a significant reduction in the Commission's budget, notwithstanding the level of funding required for investigations. Additionally, the Commission had functioned under a "manifestly inadequate" legislative framework, with a lack of any effective remedial action from government or the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee. The Committee had also failed make a decision on a code of conduct for members of Parliament, despite the Commission providing a draft code more than four years ago.

"The Integrity Commission is the only institution focused on raising the ethical standards of the Tasmanian public sector. However, its strong and independent stance is clearly not welcomed by powerful interests, whether in the government or its bureaucracy," Mr Kellam said.

"Those interests have sought to limit the Commission's work by reducing its budget, calling for removal of its investigative functions, not acting to remedy its deficient legislation, and by not supporting its work."

The government has failed to follow through on the Commission's recommendation to amend the Criminal Code to include an offence of 'misconduct in public office', making Tasmania the only state in Australia without the offence on its statute book.

Mr Kellam said that a number of the Commission's investigations could have resulted in prosecution, had such an offence existed.

"There appears to be complacency in government and in the bureaucracy that allegations of corruption of the nature that have recently resulted in prosecutions being commenced in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, after investigations by their integrity bodies, will not occur in Tasmania."

Mr Kellam said that the government assertion that other bodies, such as Tasmania Police, have the capacity to detect and investigate public sector corruption had not proved to be the case anywhere in Australia.

Mr Kellam said the Commission's progress and achievements since it opened in October 2010 were considerable. They included conducting significant investigations into allegations of misconduct and establishing an active and well-regarded education and misconduct prevention program. The program includes ground-breaking work with local government.

"The Commission will not be deterred from the important task that the Tasmanian community expects of it. I am proud of the courage and dedication shown by the staff and Board of the Integrity Commission and proud to have made a contribution to its essential work."

Mr Kellam said that he wished his successor well in continuing the important work of the Commission.

Read the full statement by the Chief Commissioner

Download the media release

7 August 2015

Status of the Chief Commissioner

Due to factual errors in an article by Martin Stevenson of The Examiner (14 May 2015), the Integrity Commission has received enquiries regarding the status of our Chief Commissioner – the Hon Murray Kellam AO. 

The CEO of the Commission, Ms Diane Merryfull, responded to the article in a letter to the editor and this was published in The Examiner  -

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