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An investigation has been launched into the National Anti-Corruption Commission over its refusal to investigate six public officials referred to it by the Robodebt Royal Commission almost a year ago.

The Inspector of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) Gail Furness SC – whose role includes “detecting corrupt conduct in the NACC” – has announced she will investigate after receiving “nearly 900 individual complaints” from the public.

“Many of those complaints allege corrupt conduct or maladministration by the NACC in making that decision,” Furness said.

“Many of those complaints allege corrupt conduct or maladministration by the NACC” – Gail Furness SC

“I also note that there has also been much public commentary. Accordingly, I have decided to inquire into that decision. I anticipate that I will make my findings public, in due course.

“Information about my role, including the powers I have and how I can deal with complaints, is available on my website,” Furness said.

That site states the role of the inspector includes “detecting corrupt conduct” in the NACC; referring “NACC corruption issues” to Commonwealth agencies; and auditing the NACC “to monitor compliance with the laws of the Commonwealth”.

Inspector of the NACC Gail Furness SC. Source: Inspector of NACC


Last week, in its first major public announcement since it began operations on July 1 last year, the NACC announced it would not investigate referrals made to it by the Robodebt Royal Commission. That was despite the Royal Commission extending its operations by one week in order to be able to make the referrals to the NACC.

The NACC is overseen by Commissioner Paul Brereton SC (image top right).

The refusal by the NACC to take action over Robodebt has caused widespread public backlash and follows the Albanese Government implementing a NACC which must hold all its hearings in private except in undefined “exceptional circumstances”.

As reported by The Klaxon last week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus used fudged data to justify implementing the highly secretive NACC, which vastly understated the level of NSW anti-corruption hearings held in public.

The Albanese Government justified the move by stating the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) held only “3.5 per cent of all hearings” in public. In fact, around 50 per cent of NSW ICAC hearings are held in public — over 14 times more.

The Robodebt scheme saw $1.7 billion in debts unlawfully raised against more than half a million social security recipients between 2015 and 2019, with many taking their lives. The Government paid $1.8 billion to victims after a Federal Court class action.

To date no official has been held to account.

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