Media Release: A federal anti-corruption watchdog is long overdue. And it better not disappoint.

2 August 2019

A federal anti-corruption watchdog is long overdue. And it better not disappoint.

The events of this past week – involving a litany of crime and corruption scandals with possible links to Crown and other casinos – have demonstrated unequivocally that Australia needs a strong anti-corruption agency.

‘The Labor party took a strong position to the federal election to fight for an agency that would have wide powers, hold public hearings and receive complaints from the public. In spite of media reports today that the party room debated this policy, it must remain committed to this vision,’ said Transparency International Australia CEO Serena Lillywhite.

‘We remain unconvinced that the Coalition Government’s anti-corruption model will go anywhere near far enough. It is too weak to effectively prevent or tackle corruption. It’s simply not fit for purpose.

‘The previous Parliament recognised the strong support of the Australian people for a better democracy: one governed with integrity and with strong mechanisms to combat corruption.

‘For the first time in Australia’s history, we saw support across the Parliament for a national anti-corruption agency and better political integrity. We must not lose that momentum.

‘Every other week there is some kind of national corruption scandal. Unless we close the gaping holes in Australia’s political integrity and business conduct, these corruption scandals will continue.

‘Australia’s political integrity system needs an overhaul. Beyond a federal anti-corruption agency, we need measures to instil greater integrity across our elected representatives and public servants. This includes:

  • A strong code of conduct for all politicians
  • A stop to the incessant revolving door between politics and business, and greater checks on high-powered lobbying and donations
  • And, as the Crown Casino scandal has highlighted, stronger anti-money laundering legislation. Transparency International Australia has also long advocated for expanding this legislation to cover real estate agents, lawyers and accountants – industries that are also exposed to money laundering.

‘As the scandals surrounding Crown now irrefutable demonstrate, Australia urgently needs a strong anti-corruption agency and integrity framework. Our parliament must not waver in its promise to the Australian people.’