Jenny Leong MP blasts the Government for their failure to support vital ICAC funding

Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has blasted the Liberal/National government for failing to provide ICAC with vital funding.




Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (14:49): I support the Legislative Council amendments to the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2020 and express genuine concern about the way that they are being handled. I echo and support the comments by the member for Balmain, who, members know, has been closely watching the way that the ICAC works. He has watched as more and more members on both sides of this House have found themselves before the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is important to realise that what occurred in the upper House is not some last-minute stunt in the week before the end of the parliamentary sitting year; it has been a long-term request to the Government and the Premier to provide ICAC with the level of funding necessary to provide oversight.

The amendment was brought by my The Greens colleagues in the other place because of the failure of the Government, and indeed of the Treasurer and the Premier, to provide the funding that had been requested on multiple occasions. It is not a surprise. In the context of the amendments that we are dealing with here, it is important for us to remember that former Government members are currently under investigation by ICAC. We have heard just this week that the idea of public accountability for spending of public funds has gone out the window, with the Premier basically staring down questions about decisions around some of those grants and saying that she thinks that it is completely okay to engage in pork-barrelling.

Mr Jamie Parker: It is not illegal.

Ms JENNY LEONG: Exactly. It is not illegal so it is fine to do. We hear the level of arrogance of this Government. We just heard it from the New South Wales Treasurer in response to the member for Liverpool. We heard him say, "Well, it's our budget". That is the level of arrogance in this place. I have a message for the Treasurer from the people of New South Wales: It is not actually his budget.

Mr Dominic Perrottet: It's the Government's budget. It is not the crossbench's.

Ms JENNY LEONG: It is actually the budget of the people of New South Wales.

Mr Dominic Perrottet: We write the budget.

Ms JENNY LEONG: It is the people of New South Wales who elected you, me, the member for Balmain and the member for Liverpool.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will remain silent. The member for Newtown will direct her comments through the Chair.

Ms JENNY LEONG: It is the budget of the people of New South Wales. It is arrogant of the Liberals and The Nationals to have the Treasurer heckle the member for Liverpool by saying that it is their budget. It is not. It is the Treasurer's responsibility to hand down a budget for the people of New South Wales and they are saying he is not delivering in their interests.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will have the opportunity to speak further.

Ms JENNY LEONG: There is a clear reason why they are saying that: The Premier said in the past 24 or 48 hours that she is delivering things to win elections and allocates funds on the basis of where her seats are. That is a disgrace. The Elders sitting in public housing in Redfern are now being told by the Premier and this Government that they will not deliver because they did not vote for a Liberal Premier.

Mr Mark Speakman: Point of order: my point of order relates to relevance. This has nothing to do with the debate on the amendments that the Legislative Council has sent down.

The SPEAKER: I am happy to hear further from the member for Newtown at this stage.

Ms JENNY LEONG: The only way that the people of New South Wales can ensure that the Premier and the Treasurer act in their interests is by having oversight bodies like the ICAC. The Independent Commission Against Corruption ensures that those allocating money do their jobs and act in the interests of the people rather than running side hustles out of their office, as we have seen from former Government members in recent times. They must deliver for the people. That is not happening at the moment if the Premier is willing to publicly admit that she is okay with the idea of the Government pork-barrelling. Today the Government is rejecting the $7.3 million that the Independent Commission Against Corruption needs to do its work. The only way to ensure that the Government does not go bad and do things wrong is by ensuring that corruption does not infect our democracy. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is the oversight body to do that. Our democracy is corrupted if we do not allow that body to do its work fund it well. It is a shame on the Treasurer and the Premier for not supporting the amendments.

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