Let’s get to work

23 May 2022

‘The federal election results confirm that integrity – and the need to establish a national integrity commission with teeth – is a top issue in voters’ minds’, said Transparency International Australia CEO, Serena Lillywhite.

‘We call on this parliament to act on this mandate and the clear call from the Australian people to tackle corruption as a matter of urgency.

‘Transparency International Australia supports the principles the Australian Labor Party has put forward for its proposed integrity commission; and we support the model proposed by Independent Member Helen Haines.

‘Crucially, a fit-for-purpose national integrity commission must be powerful, transparent and independent.

‘It must have broad jurisdiction and apply equally to everyone – with no wriggle room for ministers, parliamentarians, politicians and their staff to be let off the hook.

‘It must be an independent and well-resourced statutory agency, with a broad jurisdiction and the strong investigative powers of a Royal Commission, including the ability to hold public hearings. It must be able to hear from whistleblowers and the public who have witnessed or reasonably suspect corruption.

‘Our research shows that the Commonwealth has an opportunity to improve on existing state integrity agency models with independent public hearings. A federal integrity commission can ensure people’s reputations are protected by guaranteeing new and better safeguards for due process of law and fairness, while still having public hearing powers.

‘The model proposed by Helen Haines MP, which has benefited from extensive consultation and expert advice, is a very good starting point. Let’s get that Bill into parliament for discussion and get to work in a constructive, cross-party way to progress these critical reforms.

‘Integrity can and must be a collaborative cross-party priority.’

‘Solid anti-corruption processes and strong institutions that prevent, detect and stop corruption, are the fundamental foundations of good policymaking across the board.

‘We must also remember that a strong national integrity commission is one crucial part of a broader system-wide anti-corruption and pro-integrity fix that we need to strengthen parliamentary accountability and integrity.

‘Beyond the national integrity commission, we also need transparency around political donations and lobbying, greater controls over undue influence, and proper checks and balances to guard against the conflicts of interests that distort our democracy.

‘The 47th Parliament has an overwhelming mandate to act on integrity reforms. We know what to do, let’s get to work.’