House debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019



9:42 am

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Among those broken promises is the complete lack of any attention to an integrity commission by this Prime Minister—a Prime Minister who only last November said that this was a fringe issue, then a few weeks later said to the Australian people later that he would establish an integrity commission. The now Attorney-General said that it was not a priority for the government back then, but—as the shadow Attorney-General has just said—then said to the Australian people in May that this was now a priority for the government. But, on the Notice Paper, there is no indication of any attention or effort on the part of the government to establish what the Australian people are crying out for, which is an investment in trust and greater faith in the offices of government through an integrity commission. So it is important that standing orders be suspended. We've given this government three weeks of sitting to show that they are actually going to deliver on another promise that the Prime Minister made before the election and bring before this parliament legislation to establish a national integrity commission or a Commonwealth integrity commission and start to lift public faith again in the operations of the Commonwealth government.

It's very clear, I think, to those who observed the debate that happened over the last 12 or 18 months around the establishment of an integrity commission why there is nothing on the Notice Paper to indicate any effort by the government and why standing orders need to be suspended to allow the parliament to grab control of this issue, because the government is clearly intending to do nothing about it. The first reason is that it's quite clear the Prime Minister, and I suspect the Attorney-General, never really supported the idea of an integrity commission. It can't be left in the hands of the executive. The parliament needs to grab control of this issue again and restore faith. The other reason is that it just doesn't suit this Prime Minister's third-term agenda, which is to avoid at any cost any possibility of legislation coming to this parliament that might be the subject of agreement between the two major parties.

It's quite clear that a properly constructed integrity commission could obtain the agreement of, at the very least, the two major parties. For that reason alone, this Prime Minister, who is focused on building a third-term agenda around conflict and division, will avoid, at any cost, any idea that this parliament might come together, bring the country together, around an important reform like an integrity commission. We've seen it with his new approach to the operations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, we've seen it with this Prime Minister's approach to energy policy, since he started to line up with the hard Right and dump the National Energy Guarantee, and we're seeing it now with the integrity commission. We're seeing it now with his complete lack of attention and energy on the establishment of an integrity commission. We know why it is. It's because he wants division, he wants conflict, he wants to avoid any legislation that might be the subject of support from the Labor Party and he also wants, as the Shadow Attorney-General said, to distract from his lack of any agenda to deal with the very real economic issues that are confronting the country.

But this is important. The Australian people have been looking at this building for two years wanting it to establish an integrity commission. Last December we dragged this Prime Minister to a commitment to deliver it. There is nothing on the Notice Paper that indicates any intention by this government to act on that. The shadow Attorney-General has had a notice of motion on the Notice Paper. It is clear, at the end of the third sitting week, that if this executive government is not willing to deal with this matter then the parliament must bring it on and must have a debate and repay the confidence that voters gave both major parties at the election when we both promised that when we came back for the 46th Parliament we would act to establish an integrity commission. That is why standing orders must be suspended—so we can start getting on with the job.


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