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NSW Labor to introduce laws to prevent illegal document shredding

NSW Labor will introduce laws to prevent the Premier and her Government from embarking on any more illegal document shredding sprees.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) has referred her report on Gladys Berejiklian’s office to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) following a complaint from the Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren.

The complaint stemmed from revelations the Premier’s office shredded documents relating to the controversial Stronger Communities Fund. Coalition-held seats received 95 per cent of funds from the $252 million grant program.

The IPC recommended legislative changes would prevent the Premier’s office – and other Ministers – from engaging in the destruction of important documents relating to Government processes and approvals.

The Premier admitted to pork-barrelling late last year, stating on 26 November:

“All Governments and all Oppositions make commitments to the community in order to curry favour. That’s part of the political process whether we like it or not.”

“It’s not something the community likes…but it’s an accusation I will wear.”

The NSW Labor Jodi McKay said Labor will introduce a bill when Parliament returns to establish the reckless destruction of State records as an offence.

“I find it extraordinary that we even have to do this. It should be common place that State records and important documents are kept by the Premier’s office. Pork barrelling is not ethical or normal behaviour and neither is a culture of cover-up. This is about restoring integrity and trust to politics in NSW,” Ms McKay said.

Mr Warren urged the Premier to support the changes in the interest of transparency.

“This Stronger Communities Fund grants saga really has exposed the level of secrecy and deceit within this Government,” Mr Warren said.

An Upper House inquiry into the Integrity, Efficacy and Value for Money of NSW Government Grants Programs, which will resume in February, is examining the rorting of the Stronger Communities Fund.

Ms McKay renewed calls for the Premier to front the Public Accountability Committee to answer questions about the shredding saga.

“If the Premier has nothing to hide she should agree to appear before the Inquiry. Coalition-held seats received 95 per cent of funds from the $252 million program. Gladys Berejiklian used public money for political gain, communities across NSW missed out and then her staff destroyed the evidence to cover it all up. NSW deserves answers.”