Thursday, 6 February 2020
I, and also on behalf of Senator Patrick, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes a number of recent examples of questionable conduct by Government Ministers that may fall under the purview of an independent anti-corruption commission, if one existed federally, including:
(i) numerous allegations against the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Mr Angus Taylor, including questions over the $80 million purchase of overland flow water licences and his ties to a company accused of clearing endangered grassland, and claims of document falsification in relation to the Sydney Lord Mayor,
(ii) Senator Bridget McKenzie and the 'sports rorts' affair, and
(iii) suspected leaks of classified information from Minister Peter Dutton's office about the costs of medically evacuating refugees, where the confidential information was reportedly de-classified at a time the Australian Federal Police was still investigating the leak; and
(b) further notes that the Government's proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) would not have the ability to make public findings of corruption, and can only refer potentially criminal behaviour, and will fail to expose improper conduct of Members of Parliament and public servants; and
(c) calls on the Federal government to strengthen its proposed CIC and introduce a bill to create a federal anti-corruption commission that will have the power to hold public hearings and to make public findings of corruption.
The Commonwealth Integrity Commission will have both the resources and the power that it needs to investigate allegations of criminal conduct that could occur across the public sector. The government is keenly aware that many people's lives have been damaged actually, irretrievably and unfairly through being effectively denied procedural fairness through the failings of state anticorruption bodies. The CIC will have extensive powers to compel information and hold compulsory hearings so they can thoroughly investigate allegations of criminal corrupt conduct. Courts, with their well-established procedures to protect individuals' rights, are best placed to determine criminality, not investigative bodies.
The Senate divided. [12:41]
(The President—Senator Parry)