Federal ICAC push continues
Support for a federal anti-corruption commission appears to be growing.
Newly-elected independent Kerryn Phelps has joined a group of crossbenchers in the House of Representatives pushing to establish a federal integrity commission.
The Opposition says it would introduce legislation for such a body if elected, and the Greens have achieved cross-party support in the Senate for a motion calling for the Government to establish a national anti-corruption commission.
The House of Representatives is considered likely to debate the motion when it next sits.
The Federal Government has not been excited about the idea, but Attorney-General Christian Porter has undertaken significant work on a proposed federal anti-corruption structure.
“The two ways in which you could proceed are to enlarge or change the jurisdiction and powers and resourcing, I think, of a present body like the [Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity],” Mr Porter told the ABC.
“Or you could copy the state-based system where you have an entirely new body that sits over the present system.”
Mr Porter says he does “not have a preference yet”.
“But I think there are reasons to be very cautious about adopting a state-based model, which is to have a brand new integrity body sitting over the top of every other agency that takes care of integrity investigations at the moment.”
Griffith University Professor AJ Brown, who sits on the board of Transparency International, says it should not be “a matter of simply stitching together what's there and hoping it will work any better”.
“What's needed is to plug the gaps and that includes having a new national integrity commission which can do more than simply just hunt corruption, but it can actually build integrity and deal with whistleblower protection, deal with parliamentary standards and some of the other big gaps in the system.
“We certainly need more than simply a poor copy or even just a good copy of a state anti-corruption commission, because we have got international obligations, we have got defending the borders, we've got foreign bribery.
“We've got all the things that a federal government has to worry about, about Australia's place in the world when it comes to corruption and corruption risk.
“When you are talking about corruption risk, who is it that is trying to corrupt government?
“It's not governments that try to corrupt governments, other than international governments. It's people with vested interests, including in business.”