Corruption watchdog tells WA parliament it does not want to be kept waiting

By Shannon Jenkins

September 13, 2019

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Amid an ongoing clash of constitutional powers in Western Australia, the corruption watchdog says the privileges committee can vet a swag of its evidence but has made it clear it does not want to be kept waiting long.

The Corruption and Crime Commission has given the parliamentary Procedures and Privileges Committee a deadline to go through the material and urged the committee to “speedily” get its act together so it can make good on its promises not to delay the watchdog’s investigation of MPs’ expenses.

The evidence in question are documents which the CCC had sought from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet as part the investigation.

While President of the Legislative Council Kate Doust believed the documents could contain material that was subject to parliamentary privilege, “the vast bulk of documents would not be privileged”, the CCC noted.

READ MORE: Corruption commissioner might resign, senior public servants caught in constitutional crossfire

The committee ordered DPC Director General Darren Foster to hand over all the material. It then decided it would rather have the laptop used by former MP Phil Edman, which the CCC had seized during its investigation.

“In advance of a resolution requiring it to do so,” the CCC surrendered the laptop and a hard drive, but they’re not backing down entirely.

This week, the CCC served the committee with two notices requesting access to all non-privileged material by 7 October, “so the integrity and timeliness of the commission’s investigation isn’t hampered”.

“The president has repeatedly said that the committee does not wish to impede the commission’s investigation,” the CCC wrote in a statement.

“The commission’s investigation is ongoing. However, the time is fast approaching when the commission’s investigation will be impeded if it does not have access to the significant amount of non-privileged material currently with the committee for examination.

 “As the Legislative Council has known since 20 May 2019 that it would have to determine privileged material, the commission trusts the committee has speedily gathered the resources necessary to resolve questions of privilege so the investigation isn’t impeded.”

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