House debates

Monday, 26 September 2022

Questions without Notice

National Anti-Corruption Commission

2:15 pm

Photo of Zoe DanielZoe Daniel (Goldstein, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Attorney-General. There are reports that the government has cut a deal with the opposition to weaken national corruption commission legislation to get it passed. Can you reassure the public—many of whom voted for integrity—that, should third parties, including unions, business and lobbyists, seek to corrupt government, they could be investigated and that the commission could investigate serious pork-barrelling, as Labor proposed during the election campaign?

2:16 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Goldstein for her question and I thank her for her constructive engagement throughout my extensive consultation on the national anti-corruption commission. This is a major piece of reform to Australia's integrity framework, and I've consulted across the parliament, including the opposition and the crossbench in both houses, on the formation of the legislation. I look forward to introducing the legislation for a national anti-corruption commission this week.

The Australian people believe in integrity. The Australian people voted for a government which would deliver a powerful, transparent and independent national anti-corruption commission. The commission will have jurisdiction to investigate serious or systemic corruption and will form a central pillar in the integrity framework of our country. It will help restore trust and enforce standards of integrity and accountability in our federal government system.

The government publicly released design principles based on the advice of experts that will ensure the commission operates effectively. The legislation will reflect the principles set out in our design principles. In relation to third parties, the commission will have broad powers to investigate allegations of serious or systemic corruption of or by a public official. The commission will be able to investigate a corruption issue that could involve serious or systemic conduct by any person that could adversely affect the honesty or impartiality of a public official's conduct.

In relation to pork-barrelling, decisions about the allocation of public funds should, of course, be made in the public interest. The government will not be instructing the commission on what particular matters it can and cannot investigate. It will be up to the commission to decide what matters it investigates. To be clear, if the commission considers that the administration of a particular discretionary grants program gives rise to a serious or systemic corruption issue, then the commissioner will have the ability to investigate that issue. I hope all members of this parliament can recognise the importance of this significant reform and support the bill.