South Australia's public officials have been put on notice as the new Independent Commission Against Corruption begins work today, with the first results expected within months.

Former Supreme Court judge Bruce Lander will oversee the new organisation which will examine allegations of corruption, misconduct and maladministration.

Complaints to the commissioner can be made through the new Office of Public Integrity (OPI) which opens on Currie Street.

The ICAC has been criticised because it will operate out of the public eye, with investigations carried out in strict secrecy.

Matters will not become known unless they are sent to court, with provisions preventing the kind of open hearings held in New South Wales in recent weeks.

But Justice Lander says there have to be limits to secrecy, otherwise the ICAC will stall.

"We've got to take a practical view of this otherwise it will become very difficult," he said.

"Say an employee goes into the CEO of the Education Department for example and says 'look, I know Billy the goose has been guilty of corruption. I want you to report that to ICAC'.

"If you take a very literal reading of the Act, the CEO can't say whether he's going to do it or not and that can't be right.

"We have to take a sensible view of what people can or can't say. In those circumstances the CEO would have to be able to tell the employee he was going to refer the matter ot the OPI."

Justice Lander says the Commission has already received two matters from the Ombudsman.

"We've got no idea what's going to happen this morning frankly. I've got no idea how many complaints are likely to be made either in person or by telephone," he said.

A staff of 22 will investigate complaints to the ICAC and Premier Jay Weatherill says the increased scrutiny is crucial to weeding out corruption.

"We've been relatively free of wide scale corruption here in South Australia but it would be naive to think that it doesn't exist," he said.

"We're not just a country town any more. We're a modern economy and there are pressures on public officials. There is money in our community and where there is money, there is the potential for corruption.

"We expect our public officials to be making decisions in the public's interest, not based on personal interest, so if people are doing the wrong thing and are seeking to profit out of their public roles, then they're the ones that have something to fear."

The Ombudsman has already flagged his intention to refer contentious Mount Barker planning decisions to the ICAC.


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