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Accountability is under threat. Parliament must urgently reset the balance

Anne Tiernan writes in The Conversation (28.10.21) about the Morrison government’s attempts to undermine public accountability, suggesting the solution to this corrosive problem might be found through the federal parliament itself.

‘All Australians have a stake in our nation’s good governance. The past week has provided plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Morrison government’s disregard of core tenets of Australian democracy in its quest for electoral advantage.

‘I can’t recall an Australian government that has been as blatant in its disdain for accountability as the one led by Scott Morrison. Nor has there been one that has more assiduously bred the culture of secrecy that permeates from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) down.

‘… The parliament, like the national cabinet, is merely the latest arena to showcase Morrison’s audacity, given his slim majority and the deep fractures within his government.’

With a federal election looming, is there new hope for leadership on integrity and transparency?

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, AJ Brown, writes in The Conversation (18.11.21) that, as the Coalition has made promises on whistleblower protection and must soon reveal its plan for a federal integrity commission, now is the time for both major parties to prove they can take real national action on accountability.

‘As we head into a federal election campaign next year, the focus on whether government – and which party – can be trusted to govern openly and honestly for the public good is looming larger than at any time in living memory.

‘Plans to overhaul Commonwealth whistleblower protection laws were revealed last week by Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker.

‘The Coalition government’s legislation for a federal integrity commission (or ICAC) is also imminent, following feedback on the extensive problems with its draft bill last year.

‘And a plethora of other accountability issues are awaiting action.

‘All these provide a reminder, heading into the election, that trust in government hinges not only on “performance” in a direct, hip-pocket sense. It also depends on who can be trusted to protect public decision-making from becoming a self-serving gravy train for leaders and their friends.’

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