A connected national integrity plan
Australia has a strong track record for integrity in public decision making, democratic innovation and frameworks for controlling corruption.
However, that track record has been slipping. We have been slow to respond to global pressures, suffering gaps, fragmentation and lack of coordination.
Even before COVID-19 provided new reasons for ensuring public funds are not lost to corruption, government investment in our integrity institutions has declined, especially at the federal level.
Nationally, many core integrity agencies remain unsupported and lack the legal and financial independence they need to guarantee their roles.
A federal anti-corruption agency would fill this large institutional gap but by itself it is not enough to face the challenges of maintaining and strengthening integrity in Australia.
There is no one silver bullet. All agencies with major integrity functions need to be given the correct scope and mandate to operate as part of a coherent national approach. They need to work together as a unified and effective “system” – from auditors-general and ombudsmen to information commissioners and the courts.
We need a coordinated national framework in which federal, state and territory agencies work better together – and with civil society, business and international partners – to achieve a more connected approach to corruption control.
Following open government principles, the co-design of Australia’s approach requires new and ongoing flexibility to adapt to changing needs and public concerns, with participation channels for the public, civil society and the private sector.