Wednesday, 23 November 2022
National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022, National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022; Second Reading
Australians lost a lot under the previous coalition government. They lost a decade to climate inaction. They lost $3.4 billion for submarines that were never built. They lost the Australian car industry. And ministers lost count of how many secret portfolios former prime minister Morrison had. All of this added up to an erosion and a loss of trust in government.
Even as this federation was built, Australians have been proud of our strong democratic values. To this day, it is that value of democracy which we ask the newest Australians to sign up to and pledge their commitment to. Therefore, all Australians deserve to have confidence that their democracy is working for them. That is why we've introduced the National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022, to create that powerful, transparent and truly independent National Anti-Corruption Commission, with the powers necessary and the funding necessary to investigate corrupt conduct, to investigate the past and the present, to prevent for the future—independently and without political interference—and to restore integrity and trust in government.
I have to address the comments from the former Acting Prime Minister, who was just speaking at the dispatch box, and who said that Canberra bureaucrats 'don't care'. I have to disagree. We know that the people who work in our public sector do care—and, again, this bill is about backing them to do their job without fear or favour so that they can continue to do what they do every single day, which is to develop and implement policy which improves the lives of all Australians.
We know that an integrity commission was a key issue at the 2022 election. The results in this chamber show that. But that wasn't the first election. It feels like years ago—because it was—that a Commonwealth integrity commission was first announced. In 2018, the then Attorney-General promised that a coalition government, which was subsequently re-elected, would introduce and deliver an integrity commission, a promise from that 2019 election that was never delivered. It was a bit like their 'back in black' surplus mugs—all announcement and no delivery.
In the final seconds I have, I do want to thank some of those who have campaigned for this change and for this bill to be introduced on the floor of this parliament. I pay tribute to the member for Indi, who has done so much to be a voice for integrity in this place. I thank all the members of the committee who interrogated this bill and held hearings. I thank many who have advocated in their electorates and, as a result, have been elected to this place. I want to note that it was 10 years ago this month that former member for Fremantle Melissa Parke first raised this idea in a parliamentary committee report. It was not an idea embraced by the government at that time, but the idea's time has well and truly come. With that, I will conclude my remarks for now.