ICAC details use of SA government bugs

Tim Dornin
·2-min read

Bugs placed in a state government meeting room were authorised by a warrant and were part of an investigation which resulted in charges being laid, South Australia's corruption watchdog has revealed.

The use of the listening devices has raised concerns among some MPs after they were revealed in an annual review of the operations of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

SA-BEST MP Frank Pangallo said he wanted both former commissioner Bruce Lander and current commissioner Ann Vanstone, who replaced him in September this year, to front a parliamentary committee to provide an explanation.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ms Vanstone said in June last year the Supreme Court granted a 55-day warrant to install a number of surveillance devices in a government department building as part of a corruption investigation.

A condition of the warrant was that the devices would only record when the person of interest was in the room.

"Those devices were installed in a meeting room," Ms Vanstone said.

"Relevant conversations were captured in accordance with the warrant."

But Ms Vanstone said at one stage the devices were required in a second room and officers had no time to remove them from the first room, so just disabled them.

"That meant that more devices than were permitted by the warrant were installed, albeit some were not operating," she said.

"Once the ICAC became aware of this a number of things happened very quickly.

"The surveillance devices were deactivated, the agency managing the surveillance was asked to quarantine the audio recording and not provide it to the ICAC."

However, Mr Pangallo described details of the devices as "unprecedented and potentially scandalous" that should send shock waves across the community.

"It raises many serious questions relating to the legality of the listening device, where it was placed and what it was used for," he said.

Mr Pangallo said ICAC had enormous powers to carry out its investigations and it would be extremely disappointing if these powers had been abused.

"There needs to be more independent oversight and scrutiny of its operations and the way in which this anti-corruption agency has operated since its inception seven years ago," the upper house MP said.