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The proposed National Integrity Commission is a watered-down version of a federal ICAC

Yee-Fui Ng writes in The Conversation (13.12.18) about the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison's, announcement that his government will establish a new federal anti-corruption agency. The author notes that the proposed integrity commission is an improvement on the patchwork of mechanisms in place now, but does not go nearly far enough to prevent and investigate corruption.

'The federal government has announced it will establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission. This new commission will be the peak body to detect and investigate corrupt and criminal behaviour by Commonwealth employees.

'This announcement followed mounting pressure from Labor, the Greens and independent MPs, who argued that a national integrity commission was vital to rebuild trust in Australian democracy.

'On November 26, independent MP Cathy McGowan introduced a private member’s bill for the introduction of a national integrity commission, further increasing the pressure on the government.

'All Australian states have anti-corruption commissions, and the federal government is lagging behind in this area.

'… The proposed model is a watered-down version of an anti-corruption commission, with limited powers. The Commonwealth Integrity Commission will have the power to conduct public hearings only through its law enforcement division.

'Conversely, the public sector integrity division with the broader remit will not have the power to make public findings of corruption. Instead, it will be tasked with investigating and referring potential criminal conduct to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.'

As the government drags its heels, a better model for a federal integrity commission has emerged

Yee-Fui Ng writes in The Conversation (26.10.20) about new proposals for a robust national integrity commission with suitable accountability mechanisms that the federal government should seriously consider.

'Independent MP Helen Haines has just introduced a bill into parliament that seeks to establish a robust new federal integrity commission. This is a consensus bill that involved consultation with legal academics, panels of retired judges, civil society stakeholders, ethicists and MPs.

'Without the government's support, it is unlikely to pass. But it is a move designed to force the government's hand. Although the government has agreed to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, it has been dragging its heels on the issue. An exposure draft of the government's CIC bill was sent to the attorney-general in December, but it has yet to be publicly released.

'The government has said the bill's release was delayed due to the immediate priority of responding to the pandemic. However, the need for a federal integrity commission is just as important as ever, with the government now plagued by multiple scandals involving the misuse of federal funds, such as the Western Sydney airport deal, the ASIC chair’s tax advice bill, the Angus Taylor water buyback scheme and the "sports rorts" affair.'

 

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