Is ICAC Just a kangaroo court?
Chris Merritt wrote in the Australian newspaper on 5 May 2022 that:
“The nation owes Stephen Rushton a vote of thanks. As one of the three ICAC commissioners in NSW, Rushton’s argument that his organisation is not a kangaroo court should finally ensure this question receives proper scrutiny.
If he is right, we have nothing to fear if the next federal government establishes a national integrity commission based on the NSW model. In those circumstances, Scott Morrison’s concerns about ICAC would be baseless.
But what if Rushton is wrong? That would mean that Morrison, almost alone among public figures, has had the fortitude to call a spade a spade.
In order to test the commissioner’s assertion it is necessary to compare the key structural elements of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption to the known characteristics of a kangaroo court.
Here is the bottom line: ICAC is a perfect example of a kangaroo court. That is not an insult. It is merely a fact.”
For the full transcript of his article, click here.
According to Chris Merritt, a Kangaroo Court:
- should not be an official court
- will pursue people without “good evidence” when they are regarded as guilty.
- is a “mock court or legal proceeding” in which “some or all of the accused’s due process rights are ignored and the outcome appears to be predetermined”.
- disregards the rules of evidence and make adverse findings against those it regards as wrongdoers based on material that would never be acceptable in a court.
- while not part of the justice system, it adopts the outward appearance and formalities of a court and imposes penalties that can last a lifetime – public declarations of corruption whose merits cannot be tested on appeal.
- punishes those it regards as corrupt and deprives them of rights described as due process. Because there is no merits review, those affected by errors in public findings have limited options.
- predetermines outcomes as an inevitable outcome of the way the ICAC Act requires the commission to conduct public hearings. First it decides that corruption is present. Then it decides to hold a public hearing.
In his article, Chris Merritt stated: “Stephen Rushton, who has worked for ICAC for almost five years, is understandably upset that the commission is not held in universal high regard. The reality, however, is Morrison is right. ICAC is a kangaroo court. It fits the definition precisely.
Which parts of the kangaroo court would form part of its national integrity commission? Will appeal rights be discarded? Will the rules of evidence go? And will there be show trials with predetermined outcomes?”