Serious questions about potential political interference with active corruption investigation


Canberra Liberals Leader Elizabeth Lee has raised alarm at what appears to be the ACT Government interfering with an Integrity Commission investigation into the Campbell Primary Modernisation Project (‘Operation Kingfisher’) following revelations that the head of the ACT Education Directorate Katy Haire has launched legal proceedings in the Supreme Court to stop the investigation.

Court documents filed in September 2023 show Ms Haire has accused the Integrity Commissioner of bias and is seeking to have the investigation stopped completely and for no report or findings to be made.

In December 2021, the ACT Auditor-General was scathing in finding that the procurement process “lacked probity. Tenderers were not dealt with fairly, impartially and consistently” and that the delegate’s decision was “not based on the evaluation criteria with which the Territory approached the market and sought tenders”.

During the course of the Integrity Commission’s public hearings on this investigation, serious allegations were raised that the final decision may have been as a result of direct pressure from the Education Minister’s office.

Ms Lee said it is extraordinary for the ACT government to take this unprecedented action especially following the damning evidence that has been put forward during the recent public Integrity Commission hearings on the matter.

“The Integrity Commission’s investigation has already highlighted serious issues around this procurement and for the ACT government to try and have the investigation stopped constitutes what many Canberrans will clearly see as political interference,” Ms Lee said.

“Accusations of bias against the Integrity Commissioner must be treated very seriously and expeditiously. For this matter to be listed one month after the ACT election in October this year (14 months after the application was filed) is extraordinary.

“The court file shows that this matter has been delayed on no less than five occasions and raises serious questions about the motivation for the ACT government commencing this legal action.

“Canberrans are right to be frustrated with how long this matter is taking to be finalised – as they are with the investigation of the dubious CIT contracts – and this clear intervention by the ACT government whilst there is an active investigation by the Integrity Commission under way is deeply concerning.

“The Integrity Commission was set up to ensure that serious allegations like we have seen with the Campbell Primary School Modernisation Project procurement and the CIT contracts are investigated at arm’s length of the government and it is essential that there is no undue intervention of the Commission’s investigations.

“Given the extraordinary lengths the ACT government is taking to delay the findings of this investigation until after the October ACT election, Canberrans should be asking: what does the government have to hide?

“The ACT government has very serious questions to answer including:

  1. When did the Chief Minister, or the Attorney-General, or the Education Minister know about these Supreme Court proceedings?
  2. What is the basis of the bias claim against the Integrity Commissioner?
  3. Why have the Supreme Court proceedings been delayed so many times; and who requested the delays?