Our national integrity priorities

15 April 2019

Our five priority areas for action now challenge all parties to answer the question: how do we take forward that momentum to bring out the best in our democracy?

The overwhelming majority of our federal politicians now supports a better system to tackle corruption and promote political integrity across our government and parliament

Proposals so far for a federal corruption watchdog are just a first step – both major parties need to back a larger plan for promoting political integrity to ensure our democracy is as fair and representative as can be.

We want to fix the flaws in the system – where the people with the most money get the best access to politicians, and people who blow the whistle on crime and corruption are silenced.

Our lengthy discussions with experts and everyday Australians alike point us towards clear priorities for reform:

  • A strong and properly resourced National Integrity Commission– one that goes beyond punishing corruption and fosters the highest level of integrity across our government and parliament.
  • Fair, transparent and nationally consistent rules for controlling political donations – so that our elected representatives put the public’s best interest first, not those who pay the most.
  • Strong rules around lobbying and a parliamentary code of conduct to stop conflicts of interest and put the public’s best interest first.
  • A strong whistleblower protection authority – because whistleblowers’ contribution to exposing wrong-doing helps us all.
  • We need to be a better member of the international community – and act to stop the flow of dirty money into Australia, reform foreign bribery law, stop the use of anonymous shell companies as vehicles for corruption and wrongdoing, and join important global initiatives to promote transparency.

We call on all political parties and independents to commit to adequately funding this important reform agenda and join our plan of action to promote the highest levels of integrity for our democracy.

1. Establish a strong, properly resourced national integrity commission with:

  • strong powers (including public hearings, when needed, across the entire Commonwealth public sector);
  • wide jurisdiction (to investigate criminal, disciplinary and ‘grey area’ corruption, when needed; and comprehensive mandatory reporting);
  • proper funding ($100 million per annum).

2. Control political donations and finance through:

  • low disclosure thresholds and real-time disclosure of political donations and campaign expenditure at federal and state levels;
  • lowest workable donation and campaign expenditure caps, and public funding for election expenses with tighter accountability;
  • nationally consistent rules and enforcement, in line with community standards, agreed through a high-level national process engaging experts and the public.

3. Strengthen rules on lobbying, ‘revolving doors’ and parliamentary conduct through:

  • increased ‘quarantine’ or ’cooling off’ periods for ex-ministers and senior staff;
  • codes of conduct supported by independent advice and investigation regimes for all Members of the federal parliament;
  • stronger sanctions and independent enforcement of lobbyist registration, disclosure and compliance.

4. Protect whistleblowers through:

  • a properly resourced whistleblower protection authority for public and private sector workers, as recommended by the 2017 Parliamentary Joint Committee inquiry;
  • a well-designed reward scheme, as also recommended by the Committee;
  • upgraded legal protections for workers in all sectors, and unified, stand-alone legislation for the private sector (consistent with or beyond the 2019 Corporations Act reforms), as also recommended by the Committee.

5. Bolster international anti-corruption efforts by:

  • expediting membership of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative;
  • establishing a public register of beneficial ownership of companies, beginning with ASIC verification of all company ownership data;
  • fully implementing the Financial Action Task Force Tranche 2 recommendations for anti-money laundering (to stop dirty money flowing into Australian real estate and luxury goods);
  • reforming foreign bribery law, including adequate procedures defences and removing facilitation payments.