21 February 2024

Release of Integrity Commission CIT contracts probe delayed until April

| Ian Bushnell
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Thirty-five people received the interim report. Some sought and were granted an extension of time to comment. Photo: File.

The public won’t know the contents of the corruption watchdog’s first report on its investigation into the Canberra Institute of Technology contracts affair until at least April.

The ACT Integrity Commission completed its interim report on Operation Luna late last year. It provided copies to relevant parties as required so they could comment, but some requested more time to respond.

Under the Integrity Commission Act 2018, parties have a minimum of six weeks to respond.

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A Commission spokesperson said Commissioner Michael Adams exercised his discretion to allow some even more time to respond.

The spokesperson said the decision to grant an extension ensured that all parties were given sufficient opportunity to respond comprehensively to the matters under investigation.

“The Commission will publish the full interim report; however, until all replies have been received and considered, the Commission cannot provide a definitive date for the public release of findings,” the spokespersons said.

“The process of considering submissions received by parties in response to the draft report can be lengthy, requiring rigorous consideration of all issues raised. The Commission is currently undertaking this process. As such, it is unlikely for the interim report to be tabled before 1 April 2024.”

Special Minister of State Chris Steel told ABC radio this week that the government had received a copy.

He also confirmed that CIT CEO Leanne Cover was still on paid leave from her $318,000-a-year job.

In November, Mr Adams told an assembly committee that about 35 people had received the interim report.

Ms Cover was stood down for the duration of the Integrity Commission investigation into the $8.5 million of consultancy contracts awarded to “complexity and systems thinker” Patrick Hollingworth by CIT.

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Operation Luna is intended to determine whether the conduct of certain CIT public officials amounts to corrupt conduct and/or serious or systemic corrupt conduct.

Over a five-year period, over $8.5 million was given to companies ThinkGarden and Redrouge Nominees Pty Ltd, owned by “complexity and systems thinker” Patrick Hollingworth, for services including mentoring and organisational transformation.

The last and most significant of those contracts was worth $4.99 million and was signed in March 2022, four months after the Integrity Commission first received a complaint.

Mr Adams told the committee that the report focused on one particular area of concern.

“There’s already been a great deal of work on the wider investigation, but much work still has to be done in that area,” Mr Adams said.

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Hardly a doubt this report will be released when something else is occupying people’s minds e.g. everyone’s hitting the coast during a short working week due to public holidays…

William Newby10:55 pm 20 Feb 24

Disgusting, the time this basic investigation has taken is clearly nothing more than stalling for a post election release of what will prove to be further reckless spending of OUR MONEY under a Labor (controlled by the Greens) government!

One lesson that needs to be taken from this is to increase the urgency with which these inquiries are completed. There should be no circumstance where a person is paid $300k + to sit around doing nothing for years, even months. You’d almost think that they’re waiting for anyone who might be the subject of disciplinary or criminal action to retire before making the findings public.

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