MEDIA RELEASE

LANDMARK ANTI-CORRUPTION LEGISLATION IS AN HISTORIC STEP TOWARDS RESTORING TRUST IN GOVERNMENT

28 September 2022

Transparency International Australia today welcomes the introduction of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) legislation to Parliament.

“Transparency International Australia has been championing the cause of a national anti-corruption commission for almost 20 years. We are proud to have contributed our expertise, from years of analysis in Australia and overseas, to the development of this reform” said Clancy Moore, CEO of Transparency International Australia.

“After a decade of decline on Transparency International’s global corruption ranking and countless corruption scandals, this landmark reform is a life raft for Australia’s political system.

“We are heartened by the strong design principles of the anti-corruption commission legislation – promising a strong and effective agency with the power to prevent and stop corruption.

“Transparency International Australia has long advocated for the importance of the Commission’s role in preventing corruption – because the best way to stop corruption is to prevent it. We are pleased to see the strong corruption prevention powers in the legislation.

“We are concerned the bar public hearings is set too high. Public hearings are essential for detecting and preventing corruption The risk that some important examples of corruption will be dealt behind closed doors and in secrecy is a blow for transparency.

“We need to have a robust discussion about how we can establish best-practice guidelines for public hearings, based on Australia’s 30 years of experience across the country.

“The NACC is at the heart of integrity reform in Australia, but it must be supported, it cannot tackle corruption alone.

“Transparency International’s global experience points to the fragility of such reforms in many countries. That’s why anti-corruption commissions need to be part of a broader pro-integrity reform agenda.

“We are heartened to hear that the Government is committed to strengthening whistleblower protections and will reform the federal public sector whistleblowing legislation by the time the anti-corruption commission is up and running.

“Whistleblowers are one of the single most effective ways to identify corruption. Without people blowing the whistle on corruption and misconduct, detecting corruption can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

“We need to go beyond tweaks to current whistleblower protection legislation – we need an overhaul of whistleblower protection laws, and the establishment of a centralised, independent authority to ensure whistleblowers are heard and protected.

“We also look forward to working with the parliament on broader policy reform to prevent and stop corruption in Australia – including establishing robust parliamentary code of conduct for all parliamentarians and staff, and greater controls over the corrupting influence of political donations and lobbying.

“We applaud the hard work of members of parliament, across the political spectrum, and the public servants who have worked long and hard to bring such reforms to light. We also acknowledge the many individuals and community groups who have tirelessly campaigned for a better way of doing politics.”