The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) is a specialist investigator with a focus on government corruption.
The ICAC is the Chief Executive Officer of his own agency, operating under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act (the ICAC Act). The agency is known as the Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.
The Office commenced taking reports on 30 November 2018.
Mr Michael Riches is the Northern Territory Independent Commissioner Against Corruption. He commenced this role on 6 July 2021.
Independent Commissioner Against Corruption
Mr Riches holds an Honours Degree in Law and Legal Practice, a Degree in Arts and a Diploma in Public Safety. After recruit training at the Police Academy, he spent almost nine years as a South Australian police officer. He worked in a number of operational and corporate roles, including general duties policing, tactical teams, police communications and media liaison.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Law and Legal Practice from Flinders University, Mr Riches worked as a solicitor in the Police Legal Branch before moving to the Crown Solicitor’s Office, where he worked in the Civil Litigation Section, Advising Section and as counsel in the Crown Counsel Section. He has advised state government agencies in a wide variety of matters and has appeared as counsel in a number of cases, including several high profile coronial inquests. He also worked part time as a tutor in the University of Adelaide Law School.
As a member of the Public Integrity Reform team, Mr Riches took a lead role in the establishment of the SA Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption and the Office for Public Integrity. When those offices commenced he held a position as a senior legal officer before being appointed Director of Legal Services and Reviews. In December 2016, Mr Riches was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the ICAC and the OPI. He became Deputy Independent Commissioner Against Corruption on 26 October 2018.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Matthew Grant is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for leading the operations of the Office of the ICAC including, investigations, preventions and the business service functions.
Mr Grant is proudly born and bred in the Northern Territory, with more than 25 years’ experience working in highly-sensitive and complex legal environments.
Mr Grant was most recently an executive member of the Western Australia Crime and Corruption Commission, providing high-level counsel to the Commissioner and overseeing complex investigations into serious misconduct and corruption within the WA public sector. During his employment with the Australian Federal Police, Mr Grant garnered extensive national and international experience managing multi-agency investigations and operations.
Mr Grant has a Bachelor of Investigations, has undergone the highest level of investigation management training and has extensive executive development training.
The ICAC Minister is the Chief Minister. The Department of the Chief Minister led the establishment of the Office of the ICAC, supported by an inter-agency working group made up of key staff across various government departments.
The establishment of the Office of the ICAC has included:
- developing new legislation (the ICAC Act)
- recruiting the ICAC
- recruiting the Inspector
- recruiting Office of the ICAC staff
- finding suitable office space
- developing the ICAC website
- assisting the ICAC to develop his practice directions and guidelines.
Freedom of Information requests
The Information Act gives you the right to access information held by us.
Before you make an information request, it is important for you to know that the information we can provide is necessarily limited by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act.
No documentation in relation to reports received or investigations undertaken by the ICAC will be released under Freedom of Information legislation.
We are committed to publishing as much information as possible on our website and in our annual report.
For more information about Freedom of Information requests, refer to the Information Commissioner for the NT’s website.
Do a preparedness health check.
- What policies do we need? For example, conflicts of interest, risk and fraud control, whistleblower protection, handling referrals.
- Do we have policies in place? If yes, are they up to date?
- What are our operational/resource requirements?
- Who will respond to requests for information and produce documents?
- Who will handle referrals?
- Who will undertake investigations?
- Who will receive reports and respond to recommendations?
- How will we protect and support whistleblowers?
- How will we manage staff being investigated?
- What training will staff require? For example, conflict of interest training, managing confidential information, mandatory reporting, managing whistleblowers, managing staff under investigation.
What are the key areas to look at?
- Tender/procurement processes and other high risk areas of improper conduct
- Declaring/managing conflicts of interest
- Reporting improper conduct:
- training Nominated Recipients
- training staff about mandatory reporting obligations
- Responding to investigations:
- resourcing – who will produce records?
- do staff understand how to respond to requests for information from the ICAC?
- do any of our practices and procedures conflict with obligations under the Act?
- what support (emotional/health/legal) will be provided to staff who are suspects/witnesses?
- what processes do we need in place to respond to ICAC requests?
- what is the process and who will respond to findings and recommendations in reports?
- is Human Resources sufficiently trained to manage and support whistleblowers?
- are managers trained to manage whistleblowers and are they aware of their obligations to respond to the ICAC?
The Commissioner may, from time to time, be conflicted regarding an investigation. That is, the Commissioner may have a personal interest in an investigation. This will mean that the Commissioner is unable to perform his official duties. In that circumstance, an Acting ICAC will be appointed by the Administrator.
The ICAC Inspector is a part-time statutory appointment that oversees the ICAC. The purpose of the Inspector is to ensure that the Commissioner and his office are acting within their powers under the ICAC Act as part of an ongoing review process.
- evaluation of the ICAC’s performance (including an annual report)
- receive and deal with complaints about the Commissioner or members of the ICAC’s staff
- make recommendations to the Commissioner or to public bodies in respect of practices or procedures.
The Inspector can also receive and investigate complaints about the Commissioner and his office. Further information about the ICAC Inspector is available on his website. To contact the ICAC Inspector follow this link.
The Inspector is appointed for five years and is not eligible for reappointment.
Mr Bruce McClintock SC is the ICAC Inspector for the NT. This is a role he undertakes concurrently with his appointment as Inspector for the New South Wales ICAC.
Since his admission in 1983, and since taking silk in 1996, Mr McClintock has practiced extensively in the areas of commercial law, equity and media law, trade practices law, and planning and environment law. Mr McClintock is an experienced Senior Counsel with broad experience in investigations and commissions of inquiry. He has a particular interest in anti-corruption and integrity bodies, their structure and functions, and has written and co-written two key reports relating to the New South Wales ICAC and the legislation under which it operates, including the 2015 report on which recent legislative amendments were based.
Mr McClintock was appointed to the position of Inspector by the Administrator on 28 September 2018 for a period of five years, and formally commenced his role on that date.
Further information about the ICAC Inspector is available on the Inspector's website.
The Commissioner must be a person with substantial legal expertise, such as a former Supreme Court judge or a lawyer of 10 years or more standing.
The Commissioner must not have a recent political affiliation, which means they must not be someone who has in the last five years been a politician (including at local government level), an office holder or elected representative of a political party, a ministerial staffer, or someone who has made a reportable donation to a political party. If the Commissioner is a public officer at the time of appointment, they must resign.
The ICAC is a completely independent, apolitical statutory body. The Commission is completely free from the direction of Government and the public sector, has its own staff, and is able to second staff from government agencies and engage contractors.
The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2017 (the Act) was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 23 November 2017 and commenced on 30 November 2018.
The Act created the ICAC as an independent body that is free from government direction.
The purpose of the Act is to address improper conduct in public administration.
Importantly, the Act provides built in protections for people who report improper conduct and, who may put themselves at risk of retaliation as a result.
The powers given by the Act are in addition to those that exist in other investigating bodies such as the Police, the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner, although the office of the Public Interest Disclosure was absorbed into ICAC upon its establishment.
The Act sets out that the Commissioner and his Office must prioritise investigation of the most serious, systemic and sensitive improper conduct for investigation, as well as making sure all other improper conduct is dealt with appropriately.
The Act vests its powers in the Commissioner, who may delegate these powers to authorised officers. Authorised officers may be Office of the ICAC staff, or those contracted or seconded to the Office for specified matters.
The Act is available in full here.
More information on the Act can be found here.
A summary of the Act:
|1||Preliminary matters such as definitions – for example, improper conduct, public officer, public body|
|2||Establishment, powers and functions of the ICAC|
|3||Identifying and dealing with improper conduct – mandatory reporting, referrals, audits and reviews, investigations, inquiries, reports and recommendations|
|4||Information gathering powers – entering premises and powers of authorised officers, search warrants, access to confidential information|
|5||Confidentiality and privilege – client legal privilege, parliamentary privilege|
|6||Whistleblower protection and voluntary protected communications|
|7||Administration and enforcement – terms of appointment, staffing and offences|
|8||Miscellaneous matters – protection from liability, service, regulation power|
|9||Repeal and transitional matters relating to the Public Interest Disclosure Act.|
What is the ICAC (Consequential and Related Amendments) Act 2017?
This Act amends a number of other acts in relation to the establishment of the ICAC and the commencement of the ICAC Act. Examples of some of the acts that this Act amends include the:
- Correctional Services Act
- Criminal Code
- Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) Act
- Legislative Assembly (Disclosure of Interests) Act
- Procurement Act
- Police (Special Investigative and Other Powers) Act
- Surveillance Devices Act
- Witness Protection (Northern Territory) Act
- Telecommunications (Interception) Act.
The Act commenced at the same time as the ICAC Act. A full copy can be found here.
The Office of the ICAC is steadfastly committed to and values the privacy of every individual with whom it comes into contact. We are committed to guarding against misuse, loss or unauthorised disclosure in accordance with the Information Act and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act.
The Office of the ICAC collects personal information when someone makes a report, applies for employment, or during the course of an investigation.
We use personal information only for the purposes of carrying out our functions under the Act. These include functions such as assessing reports, investigating allegations of improper conduct, gathering intelligence, and conducting research and education activities.
That information is used only for the purposes of carrying out our functions under the Act. These include functions such as assessing reports, investigating allegations of improper conduct, gathering intelligence, and conducting research.
We use an provide to other persons or organisations, personal information for the purposes that we collected it. However, we may be authorised by law to use or provide personal information for another reason.
The Office of the ICAC stores, transfers, and disposes of all personal information securely and in accordance with privacy legislation.
We take reasonable steps to ensure that personal information held is accurate, complete and up-to-date.
Individuals may access their personal information held by the Office of the ICAC by making a request under the Information Act.
The Office of the ICAC deals with complaints about improper conduct in public administration in the Northern Territory. There are many other agencies that can accept and deal with complaints about particular government and private sector functions. Even for NT Government and local government complaints, there may be a more appropriate office to deal with your complaint.
It is important that you look through the list below to see if there is another agency to address your issue(s) of concern:
Other complaint handling organisations
Banking, Financial, Superannuation, Insurance
Financial Ombudsman Service
GPO Box 3, Melbourne, VIC, 3001
1300 780 808
Body Corporate Managers
Deputy Registrar of Land, Business and Conveyancing Agents
Children (services for protected children)
PO Box 40598 Casuarina NT 0811
1800 259 256
Commonwealth government agencies
GPO Box 442, Canberra, ACT, 2601
1300 362 072
LMB 22 GPO, Darwin, NT, 0801
1800 813 846
Employment – general
Fair Work Ombudsman
Employment– NT public sector
Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment
Goods, Services, and Private Businesses
PO Box 40946, Casuarina NT 0811
1800 019 319
Health and Community Services
Health and Community Services Complaints Commission
GPO Box 4409, Darwin NT 0801
1800 004 474
Information Requests and Complaints - Information held by NT Government or local government
GPO Box 1344, Darwin, NT, 0801
1800 005 610
Information Requests and Complaints - Information held by the Commonwealth government
Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
1300 363 992
Law Society Northern Territory
PO Box 2388, Darwin, NT, 0801
Legal Aid Review Committee
Locked Bag 11, Darwin, NT, 0801
PH: 8999 3000
Privacy – complaints about NT or local government
GPO Box 3750, Darwin, NT, 0801
1800 005 610
Privacy – complaints about private sector and Commonwealth government
Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001
1300 363 992
Private Health Insurance
Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601
1300 362 072
Real estate agents, business brokers, conveyancers and auctioneers
Deputy Registrar of Land, Business and Conveyancing Agents
Commissioner for Residential Tenancies
PO Box 40946, Casuarina NT 0811
1800 019 319
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
PO Box 276, Collins Street, Melbourne VIC, 8007
1800 062 058
Fair Work Commission
1300 799 675
You may also find the following links helpful:
The Commissioner can be suspended or terminated if he:
- becomes physically or mentally incapable of satisfactorily performing his duties
- if he engages in corrupt conduct
- if he engages in other paid employment without the ICAC Minister’s permission
- if he is absent from duty without the approval of the ICAC Minister and without reasonable excuse for 28 consecutive days or for 42 days within any 12 months.
In such an event, an acting Commissioner will be appointed.
These documents will form the procedural framework to be followed for matters such as the conduct of investigations and inquiries, referrals and mandatory reporting. The directions and guidelines will support the ICAC, his staff, public bodies, public officers and those in receipt of government monies in meeting their obligations under the ICAC Act.
The Commissioner is required to prioritise the most serious conduct under section 18(3) of the Act.
He can investigate a wide range of improper conduct of people and organisations that were previously outside the jurisdiction of ‘watchdog’ bodies. Members of the Legislative Assembly, courts, tribunals, independent officers, and persons/bodies in receipt of government monies, including contractors and grant recipients, for example.
The ICAC’s investigative powers are stronger than those of its predecessor, the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures. The ICAC:
- can apply for warrants to search private premises, intercept telecommunications, use surveillance devices, assume false identities and conduct controlled operations;
- has the power to require information and items from people/agencies and organisations for investigations, inspect financial records, and require a person to answer specific questions;
- has own motion powers which means that he does not need to wait for a report before commencing an investigation.
The Commissioner also has the flexibility to deal with improper conduct and to respond to allegations as he sees fit.
- he can refer specific complaints to a wide range of persons and oversight bodies (in the case of a Member of the Legislative Assembly, to the Speaker, in relation to a judge of a court, to the Chief Judge or Chief Justice or tribunal head; in the case of police, the Police Commissioner or the Ombudsman);
- he has complete discretion about whether to pursue an investigation and how to prioritise investigations;
- he can conduct public investigations, although the presumption is that they will be private;
- investigations can be referred to agencies, and the ICAC can direct how the investigation is to be conducted. However, the Commissioner cannot direct an independent body such as the Ombudsman, and canot direct police except where police misconduct is involved;
- he and his staff can prepare briefs for prosecution and present evidence in court, however the Commissioner does not prosecute.
Part 6 of the ICAC Act is dedicated to whistleblower and imposes upon public bodies primary responsibility to protect and support whistleblowers, which means to protect them from retaliation or any untoward behaviour in response to a whistleblowing action. Public bodies can be directed by the Commissioner to take action to protect a whistleblower.
Whistleblower communications are protected if they are made to the ICAC or the Ombudsman, Auditor-General, Health and Community Complaints Commission, Children's Commissioner and/or the Environment Protection Authority.
Best practice guidelines for agencies can be accessed here.
The ICAC has the following powers:
- The ICAC Act is retrospective which means that ICAC can investigate complaints of improper conduct that occurred before the Act’s commencement as far back as 1978, when the Northern Territory was granted self-government.
- The ICAC may do all things necessary in the performance of its functions, which includes the powers of search, entry and seizure.
- The ICAC may direct a public body or a public officer to refrain from action; and
- The ICAC can direct a public body to protect and support a whistleblower.
Here is a list of important definitions under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2017:
Improper conduct (s9) – includes corrupt conduct, misconduct, unsatisfactory conduct and anti-democratic conduct.
Corrupt conduct (s10) – conduct engaged in by a public officer or by a public body that is either an offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least two years, or conduct which would warrant termination of services (the most serious).
Improper or corrupt conduct includes:
- disclosing confidential information
- misuse of public resources, including fraud
- not disclosing a private interest (in certain cases)
- accepting or requesting a bribe
- falsifying documents, for example to obtain payments.
Misconduct (s11) – breach of a code of conduct by a public officer while acting in his or her capacity as a public officer. For example, discrimination, bullying, harassment, assault (less serious).
Unsatisfactory conduct (s12) – negligence, impropriety, illegality, incompetence leading to substantial mismanagement of public resources, or the performance of official functions, or detriment to the public interest (systemic).
Anti-democratic conduct (s15) – electoral offences under the Electoral Act or the Local Government Act affecting the reputation, power, resources or influence of a political party or a candidate. For example, push polling and improperly influencing voting behaviour.
The ICAC Act imposes mandatory reporting of improper conduct on public bodies and public officers.
See the Directions and Guidelines.
The ICAC is the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, a specialist investigator with a focus on government corruption.
The Commissioner is the Chief Executive of the agency, operating under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act (the ICAC Act). The agency is known as the Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.
The Office has been operational since the ICAC Act commenced.
The Commissioner must be a person with substantial legal expertise, such as a former Supreme Court judge or a lawyer of 10 years or more standing. The Commissioner must not have a recent political affiliation, which means they must not be someone who has in the last five years been a politician (including at local government level), an office holder or elected representative of a political party, a ministerial staffer, or someone who has made a reportable donation to a political party. If the Commissioner, at the time of appointment, holds the role as a public officer of an organisation at the time of appointment, they must resign.
Mr Michael Riches was appointed as the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption on 13 May 2021. He commenced in the role on 6 June 2021.
Mr Riches completed an Honours Degree in Law and Legal Practice, a Degree in Arts and a Diploma in Public Safety. Following the completion of his studies, he undertook the role of Solicitor with the South Australian Police before working at the Crown Solicitor's Office.
Mr Riches helped established the Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Office of Public Integrity in South Australia (SA). He worked in a number of different roles in that agency and was appointed Deputy Independent Commissioner Against Corruption at the SA ICAC on 26 October 2018.
The Commissioner's investigative powers are contained in the ICAC Act. Detailed information about the ICAC Act can be found here. Detailed information about the ICAC’s investigative powers can be found here.
There is a move internationally and nationally towards forming integrity bodies such as the Office of the ICAC. This has resulted from an increased recognition that there is a need to address improper conduct in the public sector.
In August 2015, the NT Legislative Assembly resolved to establish an anti-corruption integrity and misconduct commission in the Territory. In December 2015, Brian Martin AO was appointed to conduct an inquiry into doing so, reporting in June 2016. More information about the Martin Report can be found here.
Integrity bodies have a common purpose to protect public interest, prevent improper conduct within the public sector and guide the conduct of public bodies and public officers.
They share the following key responsibilities:
- receive and investigate allegations of improper conduct within the public sector;
- prevent improper conduct through advice and assistance, and a focus on compliance culture; and
- educate the community and public sector about the risks and impacts associated with improper conduct.
All Australian jurisdictions have an integrity body, with the exception of the Commonwealth.