COVID-19 and corruption risks
Corruption, bribery, and fraud can flourish in any emergency, and the Covid-19 crisis is no different.
Around the world Covid-19 is disrupting the role and function of oversight committees, internal controls, and national audit functions. This is exacerbated when governments suspend parliaments and grant themselves extraordinary executive powers.
This is when corruption, including bribery and violations of our standards of political integrity, can undermine our democratic processes because the usual safeguards and oversight mechanisms are not in force.
The Australian government needs to allocate specific resources to independently monitor corruption, fraud, bribery, and integrity risks during Covid-19. Of course, getting the virus under control is paramount, but now is not the time to put fighting corruption and promoting integrity on the back burner. The two can and must go hand in hand.
We need to ensure that our governments consult with parliamentary oversight committees, integrity experts, audit and control institutions, and that the decisions of our political leaders at this time, more than ever, are transparent and driven by public interest.
With the health crisis being managed, three principles should guide our Covid-19 response: transparency, accountability, and integrity.