Inappropriate promotions and appointments within the ACT public service make up the largest number of complaints received by the ACT Integrity Commission, Commissioner Michael Adams has confirmed.
The Commission received 87 reports as of 1 July 2020, and has launched three full investigations and nine preliminary inquiries as of 25 February 2021. Five inquiries are active, three have been temporarily suspended and one remains unallocated.
Commissioner Adams, who is acting as interim Commissioner until mid-2021, said a significant number of the complaints about promotions allege “bad motives” behind the decision.
None has warranted investigation by the Commission to date.
“I think in all of those matters, we referred them back to the relevant employing body because they simply did not reach the threshold of corruption seriously warranting any of our resources,” Commissioner Adams said.
“[But] you have to be careful about too peremptory a dismissal, even of these matters because they can involve conflicts of interest and favouritism that can have policy consequences.
“In this business, a nose twitch is a useful tool … in the sense that there may be nothing on the surface, but you think it is worthwhile just digging because often when you pull on a piece of string, you find that there is something worth looking at.
“As it happens, none of those that we have had has warranted investigation.”
Matters pertaining to land transactions, including the Department of Housing selling a property, have also been referred to the Commission, Commissioner Adams told Committee Hearings last week.
It is unclear whether Commissioner Adam’s mention of the Department of Housing was one of these complaints outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction or whether he intended to reference an ACT Directorate, which would be Housing ACT.
The ACT Integrity Commission does not have jurisdiction over Commonwealth agencies but a quarter of complaints made to the Commission are about such agencies anyway, Commissioner Adams said.
The Integrity Commission said it could not provide any further information on the comments when asked by Region Media to clarify the remarks.