The conduct revealed in today’s report by the ICAC is completely unacceptable and constitutes a betrayal of public trust by both sides of politics. The Government has zero tolerance for corruption.
The report justifies the tough actions we took between May and August 2014 when a number of former Liberal MPs permanently left the Parliamentary Liberal Party.
In September 2015, following the High Court’s decision in Cuneen, the Government amended the ICAC Act to implement all of the recommendations of the Gleeson / McClintock Panel, including in relation to breaches of electoral laws.
These amendments expanded the ICAC’s jurisdiction so that it can now investigate, and make findings of fact about, any alleged breach of the electoral and campaign finance laws, even if the breach would not amount to corrupt conduct.
The September 2015 amendments explicitly preserved the actions taken in Operations Spicer and Credo, and provided that any possible breaches of the electoral and lobbying laws already under investigation by ICAC could be continued.
In addition, since 2014, the Government has taken a range of measures to improve accountability in relation to election and campaign finance laws.
This included the establishment of a new Electoral Commission, providing it with a clear mandate to bring proceedings for breaches of electoral laws.
In May 2014, the Government appointed a Panel of Experts, led by Dr. Kerry Schott, to consider and report on options for the long-term reform of election funding laws.
In response to the Expert Panel’s Interim Report, the Government amended the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Act, which: increased some of the penalties for breaching election funding laws; introduced a general anti-circumvention offence provision directed at those who seek to evade election funding laws; and extended the limitation period for prosecuting offences against election funding laws from three to 10 years.