ICAC boss Megan Latham has resigned

Outgoing ICAC commissioner Megan Latham. Source: supplied.

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Megan Latham will step down next week in the wake of changes to how ICAC functions introduced by the Baird government last week.

She has tendered her resignation, effective 30 November 2016, issuing the following statement:

In the light of the passage of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2016, it is not in the best interests of the Commission that the Commissioner continues to exercise the functions of the Commission, particularly when decisions in relation to those functions are liable to be revisited by a re-constituted Commission at a later time. In those circumstances, it is appropriate that the Commissioner returns to the Supreme Court and that strategic decisions await the appointment of the new Commissioners.

The Commissioner has put the appropriate delegations in place so that the Commission can continue to function, on the basis that the present Assistant Commissioner, the Hon Reginald Blanch AM QC, continues in office. However, this is a matter for the Government.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked at the Commission. I am particularly privileged to have observed first-hand the skill and dedication of the Commission’s staff who deserve great credit for the exposure of corruption in this State” the Commissioner said.

Last week the Baird government pushed changes to the structure of ICAC through parliament just 24 hours after announcing them. Latham, who was appointed to 2019, was invited to reapply for job as either a full-time chief commissioner or one of two part-time commissioners.

The changes were labelled by former ICAC commissioner David Ipp as “outrageous and shameful”, while former assistant commissioner Anthony Whealy said they “look like payback from a vengeful government”.

The changes, taken from 35 recommendations by a parliamentary committee investigating the ICAC, were introduced just four months after an ICAC investigation into prohibited political donations during the 2011 election, which saw 10 Coalition MPs stand aside or resign, and cost former premier Barry O’Farrell his job, concluded that senior Liberal politicians Michael Gallacher and Christopher Hartcher acted with the intention of evading the election funding laws.