Anti-corruption body calls for integrity commission

In a time of sports rorts, travel rorts, conflicts of interest and undue influence, Australia needs a strong, fit-for-purpose national integrity commission, an anti-corruption advocacy organisation says.

Serena Lillywhite

A discussion paper released by Transparency International Australia this month says the current focus on COVID shouldn’t distract from the fact that the Commonwealth is the only jurisdiction without an independent, specialist anti-corruption agency.

It comes amid renewed pressure for the government to act on its two-year-old promise to set up a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) to stamp out public sector corruption.

If we do not tend to it now, political accountability, integrity and the high standards Australians expect of our elected representatives and public servants will continue to fall through the cracks.

Transparency International

Establishing an independent anticorruption commissioner with broad powers to investigate corruption and misconduct will help promote public trust in the Commonwealth public sector and Australia’s system of government, the paper says.

“If we do not tend to it now, political accountability, integrity and the high standards Australians expect of our elected representatives and public servants will continue to fall through the cracks,” it says.

The Group says its Corruption Perceptions Index shows Australia’s ranking on the global corruption scale has fallen steadily since 2012, and the nation needs a stronger framework for ensuring national integrity centred around an independent commission, strengthened oversight of lobbyists  and better whistleblower protections.

Transparency International says an integrity commission must have broad jurisdiction to investigate all public officials, independent power to conduct its own investigations and refer matters for prosecution and the ability to hold public hearings, as well as adequate and guaranteed resources.

The federal government announced it would establish a CIC in December 2018 and the 2019-20 federal budget committed $104.5 million over four years to fund it, although the model has been criticised as being narrow, weak and underfunded.

Attorney General Christian Porter, who earlier this year blamed COVID for the latest delay to the stalled plan, committed to it in June in a move that was welcomed by Tansparency International.

“We welcome Mr Porter’s approach to working in a collaborative manner across the Parliament, and with the different civil-society groups that have been calling for a better form of politics and the establishment of a national integrity commission for many, many years,” CEO Serena Lillywhite said.

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5 thoughts on “Anti-corruption body calls for integrity commission

  1. The Cmth does not need an anti-corruption

    There is no evidence that there is any widespread corruption at the Cmth level

    Also – Cmth roles and activities involve, unlike local government or state government, limited opportunity for government or official decision making that lead to corrupt activities.

    Aust overall is not a corrupt country compared to our nearby northern neighbours

    According to The Economist democratic index the only full democratic countries in Asia are Australia and New Zealand

    The independent review of the Qld anti-corruption body highlighted that most of the complaints were petty and vexatious.

    1. This is the most corrupt, inept and unaccountable Federal Government in my lifetime. Things aren’t adequately investigated to facilitate sufficient public airing of the issues. Significant doubts about Dutton, Joyce, Taylor, MacKenzie, Cash, Christensen et al; allied with failure to effectively act on significant challenges to the future welfare of Australian citizens. The fact a partisan or cowered media act as a cheer squad or fail to criticise poor public policy doesn’t mean there’s an absence of corruption.
      There would already have been action if there wasn’t so much to keep hidden

  2. Considering how money moved from China to Austraila to Israel with Packer and Casinos that were funded by Canadian Pension Plans, the need is there to absolutely create a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC). I am ready to report some things from Canada the minute it is established.

  3. Dr Prasser’s comment misses a major point – ICAC-style bodies have a (well documented) chilling effect on corrupt conduct, which of course makes it difficult to assess how effective they are. Australia cannot afford not to have a proper AC body – not necessarily a clone of NSW ICAC, and there is no evidence that former A-G Brandis was right in saying that there is ” no corruption at the Cwth level: Corruption begins at Queanbeyan”…

  4. Calls for Anti-corruption bodies always emanate from forces opposed to Governments of the day be they political, media or academic. History at State Levels indicates that they rapidly become bodies comprised of zealots who are out of touch with the reality of the democratic political process which ,while not always pretty as it is driven by base human emotions, has proven to be the most effective system yet devised for driving long term societal change. Like proponents of so called Fundamental Human Rights they represent an attempt to remake society in an image that is relevant to a particular time but which becomes, in due course, out of date and a positive drag on an evolving society. Rather than creating another institution Morrison should focus on making the Commonwealth Parliament and the Australian Federation work more effectively in the interests of all Australians.

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