No Prime Minister, trust and integrity in government is not a “fringe issue”

08 October 2021

There have been a lot of things labelled as gold standard by Prime Minister Morrison in his dealings with the NSW Government. One thing that is a respected standard is the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

No matter your opinion of former Premier, Ms Berejiklian, rules are for everyone and those rules are in place to ensure integrity in government and to stop corrupt behaviour in and around government. The NSW ICAC will work though its processes, but more broadly it has been shown to be working for the people of NSW.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Act (1988) defines corrupt conduct. The definition includes, for example; collusive tendering, bribery, perverting the course of justice, obtaining or offering secret commissions, defrauding public revenue, forgery and official misconduct.

Stamping out corrupt conduct should be above politics. A federal anti-corruption body is needed now, the truth is that it was needed before December 2018, when Scott Morrison and the former Attorney General, Christian Porter announced they would put one in place.

Nearly three years on, the Morrison Government has not delivered. Mr Morrison described his proposal in 2018 as having “real teeth”. We now know that these real teeth are bare gums. His proposed corruption watchdog would be the weakest in the nation and would ‘’hide corruption, not expose it’’, according to integrity experts.

If we had an anti-corruption body in place over the term of this parliament, the Australian people might have some answers and accountability on this government’s litany of dodgy dealings and rorting of public money for blatant electoral gain. It is a fair shopping list: sports rorts, car park rorts, safer seats rorts, jobkeeper rorts, dodgy land sales, use of blind trusts and jobs for mates.  

On Sunrise just this week he said that the NSW ICAC had a “real problem”. Mr Morrison also said, “We have a set of arrangements at a federal level that can be built upon’’, but you can’t build upon shifting sands. The public have no confidence in the foundations or the builder.

Under this government, over eight long years, trust in government has been eroded and only a Labor government has a plan for an anti-corruption body with the power to investigate misuse of public office.

An Albanese Labor Government will establish a powerful, transparent, and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission as a priority. It will operate as a standing Royal Commission into serious and systemic corruption in the federal government. It will have a broad jurisdiction to investigate and hold to account Commonwealth ministers, public servants, statutory office holders, government agencies, parliamentarians, personal staff of politicians and other Commonwealth public officials.  

Labor’s National Anti-Corruption Commission will also have the capacity to be retrospective, and be able to ‘follow the money’, meaning it can also investigate private individuals and companies involved in systemic and serious corruption.

Trust and integrity in government is essential to a functioning and healthy democracy. Corruption flourishes in the dark, it is time to let the light in.

Event - National Anti-Corruption Commission Labor Forum

An Albanese Labor Government will establish a powerful, transparent and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission to help restore integrity to our Parliament.

You're invited to join me and the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Shadow Attorney-General, for an online discussion about how Labor’s proposal will work.

Also joining the discussion will be special guests the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities and Federal Member for Fenner, and Alicia Payne MP, Federal Member for Canberra.

The event will be held online via Zoom on Wednesday 13 October at 6.30pm.

If you would like to take part, register here and the Zoom details will be sent to you closer to the event. 

This will be a really engaging discussion. We look forward to seeing you virtually.