NSW MPs warned to stop 'weaponising' ICAC

NSW politicians have been given a stern warning by the state's anti-corruption watchdog, to either report misconduct or shut up.

A three-page letter by the Independent Commission Against Corruption's chief commissioner said the weaponisation of the body to level political scores was unacceptable.

"At times in the past, individuals have 'weaponised' the commission by levelling public allegations of corruption against their political opponents," Judge John Hatzistergos said.

He said MPs accusing each other of corruption in public is often "intended to inflict political damage".

"When made during an election campaign, there is usually insufficient time to properly assess, let alone investigate the allegation, leaving a cloud that cannot be removed by polling day," Judge Hatzistergos said.

A former politician himself, Judge Hatzistergos promised the ICAC would break its silence on corruption in public life, if it becomes apparent that "the commission's functions are being weaponised"

"I may determine that it is in the public interest to clarify the status of our involvement in a matter," he said.

With a flurry of eager electoral promises on the cards to court voters, the ICAC chief also cautioned against candidates from pork-barrelling.

The commission said in August that pork-barrelling, allocating public funds and resources to targeted electorates for partisan political purposes, could amount to corruption.

He understood that "in a democratic system, candidates for office should have broad scope to campaign... and forming government involves making compromises", but he said such political decisions should be made with the public interest at the forefront.

The letter also reminded outgoing MPs to maintain integrity even after ending their political careers, especially declaring conflicts of interest.

"While there is no harm in maintaining contact with former colleagues, it is important that former members and staff do not seek to take improper advantage of these relationships," he wrote.

ICAC in September said it was receiving 50 to 70 referrals every week and and wasn't able to take on further investigations, due to historic underfunding.