Labor has today moved to re-establish a Senate Select Committee to inquire into the need for a National Integrity Commission (NIC), and to determine the best way to stamp out corruption in federal government and promote integrity and transparency.
It is vitally important that the Australian people maintain trust in those elected to represent them. Every time a politician violates that trust, the strength of our democracy is diminished.
Supported by the crossbench but opposed by the Turnbull Government, Labor set up the Senate Select Committee on the Establishment of a National Integrity Commission in February 2016. The Committee produced a detailed interim report before Prime Minister Turnbull’s rush to an early election interrupted its progress.
We believe this committee still has important work to do, and it should finish its job. Given the complete lack of initiative from the government on tackling corruption despite a number of scandals, Labor has moved to re-establish the Committee so that it can complete its inquiry.
If a new anti-corruption body is set up, it is crucial that it is done once and done right. The inquiry will look at our current anti-corruption framework and whether a new agency would improve the system. It will also look at the different models of anti-corruption commissions around Australia and determine how these might work in the federal context. The role of existing bodies, such as the Auditor-General and Federal Ombudsman, will also be examined.
The reach of any new body, as well as its oversight, are other important factors.
Labor will be guided by the inquiry and its recommendations when considering next steps. If it is to be successful, any new body must have bipartisan support.
Labor abhors corruption in all its forms, including in politics, the corporate sector, public sector and unions. We have always said we would examine any proposal that promotes greater transparency and accountability amongst federal politicians. It is time for those proposals to be put forward.
If this government truly believes in integrity and the strength of our democracy, they will put politics aside when it comes to eliminating corruption at the federal level. Anything less would be a complete failure of leadership.