The close personal connections forged in Canberra's relatively small community creates a greater risk of corruption, the ACT's newly appointed integrity commissioner says.
Michael Adams QC, who was formally appointed on Thursday after acting in the role since January, said smaller communities face risks in public administration that larger communities avoided.
"[People in Canberra] meet at school, they get jobs here, they grow up knowing each other, in that sense it's a relatively small community," Mr Adams said.
"When it comes then to conflicts of interest, when it comes to complicated relationships because people know each other, that can be good for doing business efficiently and effectively but that also carries a risk."
Speaker Joy Burch announced Mr Adams had been appointed to the role after a national talent search.
"I am pleased that [Mr Adams] is able to continue the important work that he and the commission have been undertaking during this time," Ms Burch said.
Mr Adams said he looked forward to having a longer perspective in the Integrity Commission.
He said much of the commission's functions would need to take place in secret, but there would need to be public awareness of its work.
"The fundamental purpose is to give the community confidence in government but confidence that an integrity commission can work to assist in building up integrity," Mr Adams said.
"If everything remained secret, how are the public going to judge that? That's always in our horizon, as being something that's quite important; it just takes time to do."
The commission is yet to release any findings or hold any public hearings. Mr Adams said the commission had complaints and was investigating them.
"We've got more than enough work to do and I think as you do more work, it unfolds more work. When you pull on a piece of string, you don't know what's going to unravel," Mr Adams said.
"We've already had several matters of that kind which appear at face value to be relatively unimportant but then as you investigate and get more of the surrounding details, more unfolds. Which may not have been known to the original informant, of course that's the nature of things."
Mr Adams said he was now spending four days a week in Canberra as the commission worked to establish itself, but he was not sure how much time he would spend in the city going forward.
He said there was no reason to think the ACT was fundamentally different from other jurisdictions where corruption was found.
"Human beings being what they are, problems develop," Mr Adams said.
"What you want to do is nip the problem in the bud, but you can't always do that. Sometimes it takes an investigation and what one might call in one sense a bad outcome to highlight the seriousness of the risk and hence the importance of management and administration changing processes or tightening up processes."
Mr Adams was appointed Justice of the NSW Supreme Court in 1998. He retired in 2017 and began a three-year term as the inaugural chief commissioner of the NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.
Inaugural ACT integrity commissioner Dennis Cowdroy resigned less than a year into the role, and did not provide a reason for his sudden departure.
He was appointed to the new role in May 2019 after the government's top pick, Terrence Higgins, was scuttled when the Canberra Liberals refused to support him over his links to the Labor party, which he quit in 1990.
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