Thursday, 9 February 2017
National Integrity Commission Bill 2013; Second Reading
I thank Senator Rhiannon for bringing this bill forward. It is entirely appropriate given what happened over the summer recess and the incredible series of indignities that the public has been exposed to. This is an incredibly important issue. We are all aware, no matter what side of politics we are on—but we are keenly aware of it up here, on the crossbench—that public confidence in parliament and parliamentarians is at an all time low. Certainly, I have been working in this building for a little over 10 years and I have never known a time when contempt for the conduct of MPs at a state and federal level has been higher. That is something that everybody who works in this building needs to bear a measure of responsibility for. We in the Australian Greens are aware that there are things that we can do to lead by example that can help restore a measure of confidence. One of those things that the Greens have been pursuing essentially for as long as we have been a political party is a national anti-corruption commission.
I want to talk a little bit about the Western Australian context in a moment, but firstly I want to go through a little bit of the history and remind senators of how long this issue has been running for. In 2010, Greens Senator Bob Brown introduced the National Integrity Commissioner Bill. In 2012 our member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, introduced a similar bill into the House of Representatives. In 2013 Senator Christine Milne introduced a National Integrity Commission Bill. In 2015 Senator Rhiannon introduced a motion calling for a national anti-corruption body and political donations reform. I can remember sitting here on the crossbench and having that motion voted down by the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. If my memory serves me, a substantial number of crossbenchers supported the Greens and of course the major parties did not. In 2016 Senator Rhiannon reintroduced the National Integrity Commission Bill. How long is this debate going to need to run for? We have been prosecuting this case in here for more than a decade. The public support for a measure of this sort has never been higher. We are elected in here to represent the public interest, not to line our own pockets and not to set up future career paths in the mining industry, the banking sector or the gambling industry. We are here to serve the public interest. There would probably be a substantial number of people listening to this broadcast or checking in online who are choking over their coffee at the idea that that is what politicians come in here to do. What better way to begin to restore confidence in the work that is done in here than a national anticorruption commission?
I will take an interjection from Senator Rhiannon if she is able to remind me how many New South Wales politicians were eventually prosecuted or went to jail.