Senate debates

Tuesday, 29 November 2022


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

1:09 pm

Photo of David ShoebridgeDavid Shoebridge (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

SHOEBRIDGE () (): It might be convenient if I briefly speak now to amendment (3) on that sheet as well. First of all, in relation to both amendments (2) and (3) I note that the minister and Senator Cash have referred to the committee's review of this. Of course, these recommendations were not by consensus. In relation to the absence of an express definition of pork-barrelling, both the member for Indi, Dr Haines, and myself, on behalf of the Greens, indicated, and said unambiguously, that given the level of public concern regarding the alleged misuse of billions of dollars of public grants funds there is real merit in expressly addressing this in the definition of corruption. I don't know how clear you can be, but the failure to include an express roping in of pork-barrelling was not by consensus.

We've seen, in this parliament, billions of dollars of public money being rorted by way of pork-barrelling. I know from my experience in the New South Wales parliament that billions of dollars were rorted there too by way of pork-barrelling. There is real public revulsion about it. We want to be unambiguously clear that the NACC has the jurisdiction to look at pork-barrelling. In that regard, our amendment (3) is simply to put in a notation to the definition of corruption that provides, by way of guidance, that corrupt conduct may include conduct that constitutes pork-barrelling or political donations for the purpose of influencing a decision or policy made by a public official. Of course that should be in and of course the NACC should be able to look at that. I can't understand the resistance of both major parties from expressly including a reference to the corrupting power of both pork-barrelling and political donations. Of course, that would be consistent with the position that was adopted by the crossbench members in the parliamentary oversight.

When it comes to the removal of clause 8(1)(e), again, it's wrong to state that that was by consensus. On behalf of the Greens, I made it abundantly clear, including in the report, that the definition of corrupt conduct in 8(1)(e) should be retained. And I made the arguments, that you can hear today, that it is not an open-ended definition. It has to be serious or systemic and it has to be corruption.

What I fail to hear from either the government or the opposition is—the obvious question that's asked when you oppose this definition—what kind of serious or systemic corruption do you think the NACC should be able to investigate? What's the serious or systemic corruption that you think should not be able to darken the door of the National Anti-Corruption Commission? I commend both amendments (2) and (3) to the Senate for those reasons.


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