Senate debates

Tuesday, 29 November 2022


National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022, National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022; In Committee

1:06 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | Hansard source

I note that the Australian Greens have moved amendment (2) as opposed to amendments (2) and (3), but I will put on the record the coalition's comments in relation to both amendments (2) and (3).

As we have throughout the entire process—I know I have Senator Paul Scarr in the chamber with me—we approach this legislation in the spirit of bipartisanship. In particular, as the minister has outlined and as Senator Scarr knows, we accept the recommendations of the joint select committee. They were consensus recommendations. The committee investigated these matters in detail. They worked through these matters, listened to the evidence and, as I've said, made consensus recommendations, which we support.

Amendment (2) contradicts the consensus recommendations of the joint select committee. Even the Law Council, the Queensland Law Society and the Australian Human Rights Commission all expressed the view that the provision was both circular and unclear. To that extent, it will make it difficult, if not impossible, for public officials to know what conduct is actually captured within the provision. There is no clear or compelling case, in particular given the recommendations coming out of the joint select committee, for including this provision. I note that even the Attorney-General's Department, responsible for the drafting of the bill and the preparation of the explanatory materials, were themselves unable to identify a single example of conduct which would be captured by the clause.

In relation to amendment (3), we would say it is a legislative note but the amendment is actually unnecessary. Again, we have approached this bill in the spirit of bipartisanship; I thank Senator Paul Scarr for the work he undertook on behalf of the coalition. When you look at the joint select committee, it considered the definition of 'corrupt conduct' in detail. Again, when you look at the recommendations of the joint select committee, this is not a provision that was recommended. In addition to not being recommended by the committee, when you look at the drafting we have it is problematic in that it leaves the scope of the commission's jurisdiction unclear. We would say the better approach is to make clear that the commission's role is to investigate serious or systemic corrupt conduct, as the legislation currently does.

I reiterate that, as we have throughout, we approach this legislation in the spirit of bipartisanship, and we will support the consensus recommendations of the committee in that regard. The opposition will not be lending its support to either of these amendments.


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