WA's Chief Justice has questioned the Barnett Government's "extraordinary delegation of legislative power" to the "unaccountable" Public Sector Commissioner Mal Wauchope.
In a speech in NSW last night Wayne Martin said Mr Wauchope had been given "the power to override laws of the Parliament" and said it was "difficult to see how this framework promotes the cause of integrity".
In a spirited championing of the principle of transparency among the traditional arms of government, Mr Martin said he was "alarmed" by the strength and powers conferred on newer "integrity agencies".
Delivering the annual Whitmore Lecture to the NSW chapter of the Council of Australasian Tribunals, Justice Martin argued that moves to collectively regard integrity agencies as the fourth arm of government after courts, Parliament and the executive, should be resisted.
He said for public sector agency chiefs "both the written law and any directions of the minister are trumped by any public sector standard or code of ethics published by the commissioner, who is not subject to direction from anyone".
"The same official is now also the employing authority of each agency CEO, who therefore depends upon the favour of the commissioner for their continuation in office," he said.
Justice Martin warned a grouping of Mr Wauchope, the Corruption and Crime Commission, Information Commissioner, Auditor-General and Ombudsman may stray beyond their individual briefs.
"It is of some concern to me that these statutory agencies have banded together to promulgate definitions of conduct and standards of behaviour which are separate and distinct from the language used in the statutes creating their agencies," he said.'Both the written law and any directions of the minister are trumped.' " Chief Justice *Wayne Martin *