ICAC Differences

The ICAC does not prosecute, but will provide briefs of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and Office of the ICAC investigators will be able to give evidence of their investigation in court.

Key Points Office of the ICAC Office of the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures
Same general subject matter. Will investigate improper conduct with a focus on serious corruption. Investigated improper conduct with a focus on serious corruption.
Bigger budget. Received annual funding of $3.61million on commencement of the ICAC Act, and has ability to apply for a Treasurer’s advance if needed. Received annual funding of $0.61million, with the ability to apply for a Treasurer’s advance if needed.
Guaranteed financial independence. Independent statutory office, and a separate Agency by law for the purposes of the Financial Management Act. Independent statutory office, but was placed within the Department of
Attorney-General and Justice for the purposes of financial management.
Own motion powers. Will be able to investigate matters of complaint of its own motion. Could only investigate when a whistleblower made a complaint.
Can investigate a broader range of public officers. Will be able to investigate employees, officers, and members of departments, Local Councils, Police, and statutory authorities. Will be able to investigate MLAs, Ministerial advisors, judiciary, contract service providers, and recipients of government monies. Could investigate employees, officers, and members of Departments, Local Councils, Police, and statutory authorities. Could not investigate judges, some Ministerial advisors, contract service providers, and recipients of government grants. Could only investigate MLAs upon receipt of a referral by the Speaker.
Can conduct public investigations. The presumption is that investigations will be conducted in private, however provisions exist to conduct public investigations where appropriate. Could only conduct investigations in private.
Can investigate private individuals involved in government corruption. Will be able to investigate persons who attempt to corrupt public officials (e.g. a private individual who offers a bribe to a public officer). Could not investigate persons who are not public officers, even if they had participated in corruption.
Can investigate anti-democratic conduct. Will be able to investigate corruption in relation to elections. Could not investigate corruption in relation to elections.
Stronger coercive powers to obtain evidence. Will be able to require people to attend and give evidence. Persons must answer questions and give sworn evidence. Will have powers to access government premises and records. Will be able to apply for warrants to search private premises, use surveillance devices, intercept telecommunications, and conduct controlled operations. Will be able to apply for an order to seize a person’s passport. Could require people to attend and give evidence. Could only search government premises, not private premises. Could require private individuals to produce evidence. Had no powers in relation to passports.
Can effectively prepare a brief for prosecution. Will be able to prepare a brief of evidence for prosecution. Evidence obtained from coercive interviews is not admissible, but further derivative evidence located as a result is admissible. Technical restrictions on the admissibility of evidence in subsequent prosecutions, and lack of clarity around the use of derivative evidence.
Able to be involved in prosecutions as witnesses. Is not a prosecutor, but will provide briefs of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and Office of the ICAC investigators will be able to give evidence of their investigation in court. Was not a prosecutor, and typically referred criminal matters to Police at an early stage to avoid compromising a potential criminal prosecution due to difficulties using PID evidence. PID investigators were prohibited from giving evidence of their investigation in court.
Unfettered discretion. Will have complete discretion as to which matters it prioritises and whether it pursues an investigation, allowing more complete control of available resources. A wide range of referral bodies are available. Was required to investigate every allegation unless certain technical criteria were met or a referral can be arranged. Limited referral bodies are available.
Can direct some referred investigations, and can investigate if not satisfied with the referral body’s investigation. When referring a matter to another body to investigate, the ICAC will be able to oversee the investigation, including controlling or directing the investigation. This does not apply to investigations referred to independent entities such as the Ombudsman, however the ICAC can initiate an investigation into an allegation even if that allegation was previously referred. When referring a matter to another body to investigate, PID had no further control of the investigation, no matter how it was handled.
No requirement to give advance notice. Investigations will be able to commence covertly. Investigations could not commence until the responsible authority for the public body in question was notified of the investigation.
Public reports about systemic issues can be made. Where one or more investigations reveal systemic issues in relation to improper conduct, the ICAC will be able to make a report to the Speaker who must table the report. Improper conduct could only be reported publicly where a public body failed to implement the PID Commissioner’s recommendations.