Transparency International Australia (TIA) welcomes Attorney-General Christian Porter’s commitment to a Commonwealth Integrity Commission.
‘We welcome Mr Porter’s approach to working in a collaborative manner across the Parliament, and with the different civil-society groups that have been calling for a better form of politics and the establishment of a national integrity commission for many, many years.’ Said Transparency International Australia CEO, Serena Lillywhite.
‘The Government has correctly noted that the models and powers of existing State anticorruption commissions can be improved upon. The Attorney-General’s renewed commitment for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission provides an opportunity to lift the bar in tackling bribery, corruption, and integrity failings.
‘TIA would like to see this essential reform prioritised in this Parliamentary term, as a well-functioning, clean, and accountable government is a fundamental pre-requisite for good policymaking across the board.
‘This is especially so in a time of economic stimulus and recovery after the covid-19 pandemic – more than ever we need transparency and accountability over the decisions to allocate large amounts of public funds. We need to build a better future for our democracy and leverage recent improved trust and confidence in government.’
TIA’s long held view is that a strong anti-corruption watchdog must include:
- Independence and broad jurisdiction – so that all public servants, politicians included, can be investigated for all forms of serious and systematic corruption, including both criminal and non-criminal misconduct;
- Strong powers – it must be able to conduct its own investigations with the same powers as a royal commission, access the documents and people involved, and refer criminal conduct for prosecution. It should be able to make findings of fact;
- Public hearings – it must be able to hold public hearings when they are in the public interest;
- Scope to receive complaints from government agencies, the private sector, civil society and members of the public;
- Predictability, transparency and fairness – everyone it investigates must be held to the same standard of behaviour and accountability. Claims for public immunity, parliamentary privilege and commercial confidentiality should not be available to those under investigation by the commission;
- Accountable to the public, not political interests and subject to the oversight necessary to ensure that it always acts with absolute impartiality and fairness, and within its charter; and
- Well resourced to ensure it is effective.
‘We will continue to engage constructively with the government, all parties, and Independent MPs to support a strong and effective integrity commission for Australia.’