Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Federal Anti-Corruption Commission
Australia is consistently ranked by Transparency International as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. The government takes a zero tolerance approach to corruption in all its forms. The establishment of a national integrity commission would not better guarantee protections against corruption. A robust multi-agency approach is preferable to creating an entirely new agency. No single overarching body should be responsible for tackling corruption. By dispersing responsibility accountability increases. We have strong laws and a robust multi-agency approach to combating corruption. A range of agencies play a role in preventing, detecting and responding to corruption, including the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, the AFP hosted Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre and the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The opposition will not be supporting this motion today, but I did want to place on the record that, just earlier in formal business, the Senate supported the establishment of a select committee to inquire into a national integrity commission and to report back to the Senate by 15 August. It will canvass a whole range of issues that we believe are worth being examined further before taking a final position on the issue of a national integrity commission. So we are not in a position today to support this motion from the Greens.
If there is any lesson that we could learn from the huge disruption that is going on right around the world and indeed here in Australia to 'politics as usual', it is that people are fed up with the level of representation they are getting. They have no faith that their elected representatives are actually representing them, and they believe that we need to clean up politics. We have seen evidence of corruption at a state level, particularly in New South Wales but not limited to New South Wales. We have seen the role of these national anti-corruption watchdogs in ensuring that they keep a check on government, politicians and the bureaucracy. It is time for action now. It is not time for more inquiries, not time for more talk but time for action. Let's establish a national anti-corruption watchdog. Let's get on with the business of cleaning up politics. And let's recognise that we represent the community, not the interests of big business.