A landmark new report by Griffith University and Transparency International Australia sets out how Australia should build a stronger, fairer, more accountable system of government.
Australia’s National Integrity System: The Blueprint for Action is Transparency International’s assessment of the nation’s frameworks for fighting corruption.
The assessment comes amid debate over the proposed new Commonwealth Integrity Commission – one of the five focus areas in the report:
A. A connected national integrity plan
B. A strong federal integrity commission
C. Open, trustworthy decision-making
D. Fair, honest democracy
E. Public interest whistleblowing.
Led by Griffith University, the Australian Research Council-funded assessment has included contributing researchers and authors from across Australia, desktop research, two national attitude and experience surveys, five stakeholder workshops and 50 face-to-face interviews.
‘Despite increased trust in the performance of governments during COVID19, citizen belief that corruption in government is a problem has also risen from 61% in 2018 to 66% in late October 2020 – confirming the imperative for action,’ according to lead author, Professor A J Brown from the Centre for Governance and Public Policy.
‘The lack of a federal anti-corruption watchdog is confirmed as the biggest institutional gap in our integrity system.’
‘However it is not a silver bullet – we need political consensus on a strong national commission, but also action to strengthen the integrity of politics and government at all levels, including more effective regulation of lobbying, checks on undue influence, and fairer, more honest election campaigns.’
‘We also must value the contribution of whistleblowers and public interest journalism to the integrity of our democracy.’
Welcoming the final report, lead partner Transparency International Australia CEO Serena Lillywhite said: ‘Australians are loudly demanding that our politicians and public servants act with honesty, transparency and integrity.’
‘The assessment strongly endorses the need for a strong, independent Commonwealth integrity agency with scope to review criminal or non-criminal conduct that undermines integrity of public decision-making, and points the way forward for new, best practice investigation and public hearing powers.’
‘While Australia has a strong past record for integrity in public decision-making, democratic innovation and multi-agency frameworks for controlling corruption, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index confirms we’ve been slipping,’
‘Our anti-corruption frameworks have been slow to respond to global pressure, resulting in fragmentation and too little coordination.’
‘Investment in integrity assurance has declined, especially at the federal level, looking at the federal Auditor-General, the enforcement roles of the Australian Electoral Commission, and many other issues.’
Among the 10 actions highlighted by the report are also:
- a Commonwealth legislative plan to provide clear roles for Australia’s public integrity bodies with improved coordination and information-sharing across all levels of government, and
- a sustainable funding guarantee for core integrity agencies.
‘This comprehensive blueprint for Australia to have a strong anti-corruption and pro-integrity framework shows us the path towards a fairer and healthier democracy,’ Ms Lillywhite concluded.
The report will be launched in Parliament House, Canberra, by a panel discussion including Karen Middleton (The Saturday Paper), Alan Macsporran QC (Chair Queensland Crime & Corruption Commission) and Pauline Wright (President, Law Council of Australia).
Find the report at: https://transparency.org.au/australias-national-integrity-system/
Find Global Corruption Barometer results at: https://transparency.org.au/while-trust-in-government-is-up-australians-continue-to-see-corruption-as-a-major-problem/