by Sitting Day
Mr BROGDEN: My question without notice is to the Premier. In
view of his statement today that he emphatically believes that no
Minister in his Government is involved in corrupt activities in
Rockdale City Council, will he tell the House what steps he took to
arrive at this conclusion?
Mr CARR: I am assured that no Minister in this Government has
had anything to do with the corruption now being exposed at the ICAC
about Rockdale council. Police Minister Michael Costa has already made
a public statement this afternoon flatly rejecting an allegation
floating around the ICAC that he is somehow associated with any
activity on that council. Grubby local councillors who tout for bribes
for development applications are, in my view, the scum of the earth.
They ought to be frogmarched out of local government and, yes, treated
by the law as the law provides. What they do smears all the good local
people who serve and who have served in local government. It betrays
the trust that people have invested in them.
It should concern both the Liberal and Labor parties that people who
wear the badges of these great organisations have gone into local
government and, in a small minority of cases, behaved corruptly. That
is wrong and it ought to concern the Liberal Party as much as it
concerns the Labor Party, looking at the things being said in this
inquiry. One notes, for example, the name of Andrew Smyrnis figuring
big in today's reports. He is Liberal but by all accounts the name of
a Labor councillor is going to figure in the revelations of ICAC as
Mr Anderson: Who?
Mr CARR: Adam McCormick. It was in the papers today. If
honourable members want to rake over this, their attention is directed
back to the Telegraph-Mirror, as it then was, reporting the
September 1995 Sydney City Council elections. It reported that on Mrs
Greiner's Sydney Alliance ticket the final seat ended up being a
battle between Mrs Greiner's Alliance candidate, Andrew Smyrnis, the
No. 3 candidate on that ticket—
Mr Anderson: Is that the same Andrew Smyrnis?
Mr CARR: I can only assume it is, it not being a common name.
Mr Sartor was No. 4, with Michael Yabsley, the campaign director—the
man who figured in the recent destabilisation of the leadership of the
honourable member for Lane Cove. Both the Liberal Party and the Labor
Party are entitled to be indignant at corrupt behaviour from a very
small number of people who get into local government and betray the
public trust. I regard them as the lowest form of human life because
they taint all honest government through their behaviour. Both the
Liberal party and the Labor Party should see that they are frogmarched
out of the honourable ranks of these great political organisations.
In response to the boasting of one of these local government
characters before ICAC, the Minister has said emphatically that he has
not met the man to the best of his knowledge and has certainly not
discussed local government development approvals with him. It should
not surprise us that people engaged in corrupt behaviour attempt to
talk up their influence, to say that they are well connected and they
can get things done. That is part of the psychology of these very bad
Let me put this on the record. Local councillors who tout for bribes
will very likely find themselves behind bars. Under section 249 of the
Crimes Act, the maximum penalty for receiving or soliciting a reward
in return for influencing local council affairs is seven years
imprisonment. The Government's capacity to dismiss a council is very
limited at present. It can only dismiss a council after a lengthy
public inquiry process. This is clearly inappropriate when an ICAC
inquiry is already uncovering evidence of corruption. Today the head
of the Cabinet Office has spoken to the Commissioner of ICAC about
The commissioner has indicated that she would support the Government
introducing legislation to amend the Local Government Act to enable
the Minister for Local Government to dismiss a council and appoint an
administrator immediately, based on the recommendation of ICAC in an
interim or final report. In other words, when an ICAC inquiry has
uncovered evidence of corrupt behaviour there would be no need to have
an inquiry under the Local Government Act to see the council spilled
out into the streets, and that is what we would want in such a case. I
foreshadow an amendment to the Local Government Act to enable the
Minister for Local Government to suspend an individual councillor or
staff member of that council if ICAC recommends their suspension in an
interim or final report or if they are charged with a criminal offence
relating to their council responsibilities or council employment.
Effectively, in the case of Rockdale, this will mean the ICAC
commissioner being able to trigger, through this Government, the
dismissal of the whole council. That would happen in an expeditious
fashion. Today I have also asked the General Secretary of the New
South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party to expel from the
party any local government councillor who admits to corrupt behaviour
or is found to have acted corruptly in the current ICAC proceedings.
And I confidently expect that the Leader of the Opposition would take
the same approach with members of his party.
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Whistle-blowing policy in place - coincidence or not?