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Page: 1761

    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 well.

    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 people.

    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 this process.

    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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Wealden District Council insure with Zurich Municipal and still have no Whistle-blowing policy in place - coincidence or not?