This is a landmark opportunity for Australia to ensure the Commonwealth Integrity Commission makes a substantial and positive impact.
The primary function of an effective national integrity commission is to protect the public interest and to expose and investigate corruption in all its forms. This goes hand-in-hand with promoting public trust in the integrity of the federal parliament, the Commonwealth public sector and our system of government.
Transparency International Australia prefaces this submission with the following key points:
- The proposed CIC model does not yet meet the necessary criteria to render it effective and credible. The two-division model is a fundamental flaw that predicates other significant shortcomings.
- An effective national integrity commission must be an independent, well-resourced statutory agency, with a broad jurisdiction, strong investigative powers with scope to cover all types of corruption, a broad referral process including from the public, the ability to hold public hearings, and a corruption prevention mandate.
- The commission must be fair and equitable in its treatment of all federal public officials irrespective of status or role, and entities involved in federally funded services and contracts. The two sets of rules and standards for the two divisions does not achieve that.
- The Commission must ultimately be accountable to the public. It needs full capacity to receive and act on corruption information from any person and to make findings of fact and report publicly.
- The ability to hold public hearings in certain circumstances is essential. The CIC would be a retrograde step as it winds back existing (ACLEI) powers to hold public hearings in respect of the bulk of the agency’s operations (under the proposed public sector division).