Tuesday, 15 August 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. We have strong laws and a robust multiagency approach to corruption. A range of agencies play a role in preventing, detecting and responding to corruption. A robust multiagency approach is preferable to creating an entirely new agency. The establishment of a national integrity commission would not better guarantee protection against corruption. No single overarching body should be responsible for tackling corruption. By dispersing responsibility, accountability increases.
The opposition will be opposing this motion. The Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission, which had been working on an inquiry when the last election was called, was re-established this year to inquire into and report on the establishment of a national integrity commission. The committee has held five days of public hearings and received 37 submissions, many quite substantial. The committee was due to report on Tuesday, 15 August, but the reporting date has since been extended to 13 September 2017 and it would be entirely inappropriate to ignore its work by pre-empting its findings and report.
We've just seen Labor and Liberal get together and deny a motion that would allow an independent audit of all members of parliament, and now we see Labor and Liberal get together and refuse to establish a national anticorruption watchdog. Remarkable! We know that anticorruption watchdogs at a state level have uncovered serious corruption and serious wrongdoing and have led to prosecutions. The idea that somehow the federal parliament is immune to corruption is laughable. No wonder people have lost faith in their elected representatives. No wonder they have lost faith in the Labor and Liberal parties. The best disinfectant is sunlight. What we need to do is to make sure we have a strong and robust national body to ensure that not just politicians but figures right across the community—business, the finance industry and so on—have a body able to prosecute— (Time expired)
I think Senator Di Natale's motion here is insulting to a genuine Senate committee. The Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission has had public hearings all the over the country. We have been and talked to the CCC in Queensland—I'm a member of that committee—we've talked to IBAC in Melbourne, we've talked to ICAC in private meetings in Sydney and we've also talked to the AFP here in Canberra. To bring on this motion now makes all the work we have done, with the reporting date coming up, superfluous. I'm not opposed to a national ICAC. I agree with some of Senator Di Natale's sentiments, but I think this is premature and I will be opposing it.