Senate debates

Thursday, 26 August 2021


Morrison Government

1:30 pm

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] The Morrison government's growing list of scandals highlights the need for a powerful national anticorruption commission. So far we have had robodebt, sports rorts, car park rorts, water rorts, the Paladin contract, the au pair scandal, forgery of documents, the Leppington Triangle deal, the AWU raid tip-off and cover-up—the list just goes on and on. Mr Morrison was dragged kicking and screaming to announcing the establishment of an anticorruption commission and, almost 1,000 days later, he is yet to deliver on that promise. Even if he does deliver, the proposed body would be so weak as to be ineffective.

The Morrison government's proposed anticorruption watchdog cannot initiate its own inquiries and cannot hold public meetings. Its threshold for an investigation—suspicion of a criminal offence—is way, way too high, and the body won't be able to investigate the government's numerous past scandals. Legal experts have described it as a body designed not to expose scandals but to cover them up. The government's foot-dragging on establishing even a weak and ineffective body begs the question: what have they got to hide? The answer is in the long list of scandals I mentioned earlier, and, for all we know, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Every state and territory in Australia has an anticorruption commission. That leaves the Commonwealth government as the only jurisdiction without a body dedicated to uncovering and stamping out corruption by public officials. Australians trust in government is at an all-time low, and Labor intends to restore that trust. Establishing a powerful national anticorruption commission, a tough cop on the beat, is an important first step, and that is what an Albanese Labor government will do.