War crimes judge to lead new watchdog

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The judge who led the investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan has been appointed to head up the new federal integrity watchdog.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus confirmed on Wednesday that NSW Court of Appeal Justice Paul Brereton would lead the National Anti-Corruption Commission when it begins operating in the middle of this year.

Mr Dreyfus said Justice Brereton had a “wealth of experience leading complex and sensitive investigations”, including his work on the probe into the war crimes allegations as Australian Defence Force Assistant Inspector-General.

His proposed term of appointment as the inaugural NACC commissioner is five years.

Mr Dreyfus also announced his other picks for the integrity body, saying each appointee was selected in accordance with the government’s merit and transparency policy.

“They have the experience and capacity to guide the NACC through its first months and years of operation and set it up for future success,” he said.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has confirmed his picks for the NACC. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanAttorney-General Mark Dreyfus has confirmed his picks for the NACC. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The NACC’s chief executive officer will be Philip Reed, who has held the same role at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse.

The watchdog’s deputy commissioners will be AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose and Ben Gauntlett, a barrister and Australian Human Rights Commission disability discrimination commissioner.

Mr Reed, Ms Rose and Mr Gauntell will all serve five-year terms.

NSW ICAC inspector Gail Furness will take on the inspector position at the federal NACC, with a term of seven years.

Jaala Hinchcliffe has been appointed as interim deputy commissioner for a period of 12 months or until a third “substantive” deputy commissioner is appointed.

Ms Hinchcliffe is the head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity – a former federal agency that will be subsumed by the NACC – and has been given the temporary new leadership role to oversee the transition.

All of these appointments still need to be ticked off by the Governor-General but are expected to go ahead without any hurdles.

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