The Northern Territory parliament has passed legislation to establish its first anti-corruption watchdog.
The Gunner government’s flagship election policy to bring a $3 million independent commission against corruption to the NT is expected to be delivered by mid 2018.
Justice Minister Natasha Fyles says the new law will increase government accountability following four years of scandal-plagued Country Liberals Party rule.
“We are rebuilding that trust – as promised – with a strong and independent ICAC, powerful enough to investigate corruption at any level,” she said.
Labor released an exposure bill for public consultation and referred it to parliament’s scrutiny committee process – made up of five MLAs – for review.
The government accepted all but three of the committee’s recommendations, with Chief Minister Michael Gunner ruling out one that would see politicians’ unsatisfactory conduct exempt from scrutiny.
Expressions of Interest are being sought for a commissioner, which Opposition Leader Gary Higgins has said is set to be a political appointment.
“The independence and impartiality of the ICAC must be guaranteed through an open and transparent appointment process,” the CLP leader said.
Mr Higgins said if cabinet made the final call instead of the legislative assembly, the watchdog’s integrity would be undermined from the start.
A second ICAC bill to strengthen penalties is expected to pass the parliament in February.