Corruption watchdog to look at SafeWork SA

SA's ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander will hold public hearings into SafeWork SA following complaints.
SA's ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander will hold public hearings into SafeWork SA following complaints.

An evaluation of SafeWork SA will be conducted by South Australia's commissioner against corruption following a number of complaints about the body.

For the first time, commissioner Bruce Lander will hold open hearings and invite the public to make submissions as part of the inquiry.

"It is critical that those who are regulated by SafeWork SA, as well as the public, have confidence in the way the agency carries out its functions," Mr Lander said.

"The purpose of the evaluation will be to consider what, if any, improvements can be made to minimise the potential for corruption, misconduct or maladministration to occur within the agency."

Under current law, ICAC hearings into misconduct or maladministration are held behind closed doors, but Mr Lander said an evaluation may be opened to the public, and there is "good reason to do so".

"Carrying out such an evaluation in public allows both weaknesses and strengths of the agency to be highlighted and opportunities for improvement to be debated openly," he said.

"By holding the evaluation by way of a public inquiry, members of the public can be made aware of the evaluation, its scope and its progress and may be more willing to come forward with information relevant to the evaluation."

SafeWork SA executive director Martyn Campbell welcomed the evaluation and said it would build upon an existing reform program.

"Significant reforms are underway, and this evaluation will give us the opportunity to evaluate the progress that has been made to date and identify where more work needs to be done," he said.

The decision comes a week after Mr Lander announced a separate investigation into SafeWork SA following a failed prosecution of a safety inspection company over the 2014 death of a young girl on a Royal Adelaide Show ride.

Adelene Leong, aged eight, was on holidays from Malaysia when she was fatally thrown from the Airmaxx 360 ride.

Meanwhile, the state government will on Thursday introduce a bill to parliament giving the ICAC commissioner the power to conduct hearings of investigations into misconduct or maladministration in public.

"We went to the people of South Australia promising to introduce this legislation within our first 100 days in office and we have delivered that pledge," Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

Australian Associated Press