House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Questions without Notice

Commonwealth Integrity Commission

2:16 pm

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, congratulations to you. My question is to the Prime Minister. With only five sitting days left this year, there is no government bill for an integrity commission in sight. If you truly want to pass a bill, you write one. You table it. You bring it on for debate. That's what I've done, but you've shut down debate on my bill in the House, you've shut down debate in the Senate and you've muzzled the Attorney-General, who is missing in action on this. Come clean with the Australian people. Prime Minister, do you honestly expect Australians to believe you truly want a robust integrity commission?

2:17 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I will ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General to add to my answer. The exposure draft legislation on these matters will again be made available very soon, and the government's priority, as we've been coming out of COVID, has been to return to a number of high-priority areas.

Hon ourable members interjecting

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat for one moment. It's really not helpful to anybody when the level of interjections is so high that I can't hear the Prime Minister, and I would ask the Prime Minister if he could speak up a little bit; that would be great. Thank you.

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The government has been returning to some priority legislation after having spent the last two years focused on the pandemic response and the economic recovery. And the first of those priorities has been to ensure that we finalise the Religious Discrimination Bill, which I look forward to introducing into this House tomorrow. At the same time, the Attorney-General has been working steadily away and been working with cabinet on our draft legislation for an integrity commission, and that also soon will be available for people to give their responses to, and we will see whether that has support.

The bills and other proposals that have been put forward are not proposals that are supported by the government. What we have been doing already is taking action to invest in organisations like ACLEI and extending their coverage. It's the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity—one of the members opposite didn't seem to be aware of what that was. We have invested in that organisation to ensure that it's reaching more and more of the government agencies. It's an important integrity office of the Commonwealth. It's very different to what happens at state levels. To make an assumption that the enforcement regimes and the authorities that exist already at a Commonwealth level are the same as those at a state level—they are different. That's why you often see different things done at a Commonwealth and a state level. I would ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General to add further.

2:19 pm

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source


I do thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to add to his comments in response to the member's question about the Commonwealth Integrity Commission. We have been through a nationwide consultation process. Some 330 written submissions were received and some 46 consultation meetings and roundtables were conducted. And, very importantly, we've committed substantial funding. In fact, almost $150 million of funding has been committed to this body. At full capacity the Commonwealth Integrity Commission will have around 172 staff, as the Prime Minister has made clear. The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity will be subsumed, it's envisaged, within the Commonwealth Integrity Commission. Of course, we've also set out an explanation of the powers that this will have and we continue to work on this very important body.