The government will provide $104 million over four years to establish a commonwealth corruption watchdog charged with stamping out criminal conduct in the public sector.
The Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) will be an independent statutory agency led by an Integrity Commissioner and two deputies.
It will “work with agencies to build resilience to corruption and bolster agency capability to detect, deter and investigate corrupt conduct,” budget papers released on Tuesday say.
The budget provides $2.2 million for the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) to be reformed as the law enforcement integrity division of the CIC.
The new division will have an expanded jurisdiction to include the ACCC, APRA, ASIC, the ATO and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and will conduct public hearings.
The public sector integrity division will cover departments, agencies and their staff, parliamentarians and their staff, staff of judicial officers and contractors. It will not be able to make public findings of corruption but will be able to refer potential criminal conduct to the DPP.
No kangaroo courts here
When the commission was first announced by Prime Minster Scott Morrison last December he promised it would have teeth and vowed it would not turn into a “kangaroo court” as many state-based integrity bodies had proved to be in the past.
The government received 78 submissions during a public consultation period, which has now closed.
The CPSU, which had involvement in designing the ACT Integrity Commission, says it supports efforts to prevent corruption in APS agencies but has concerns about the proposed CIC.
“The Commonwealth Integrity Commission will not become reality before an election is called, so clearly it’s final shape is far from set,” CPSU National President Alistair Waters said.
Our concern remains that when a Commonwealth Integrity Commission is established, it has the right powers, scope, structure and transparency to build and maintain public trust and confidence.
“This integrity body must be accessible to ordinary citizens, ensure procedural fairness and deal with matters consistently, applying the same approach whether it’s the conduct of a politician, agency head or frontline public sector worker that’s being scrutinised.”
Cyber sprint teams
Meanwhile, the budget also provides for an unspecified amount to go towards the creation of cyber “Sprint Teams” to enhance cyber security around the soon-to-be announced federal election.
The sprint teams will contribute to “enhanced monitoring and response capabilities”, but expenditure is not revealed in the budget papers “due to national security reasons”.
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