Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Statements by Senators

National Anti-Corruption Commission

1:34 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Next week marks 1,000 days since the Morrison government promised to deliver a national integrity commission and two years since my bill to actually establish one passed this Senate. While my bill sits gathering dust in the House, Australians are still waiting for the government to live up to its promise. Meanwhile, every poll shows that public confidence in government and democracy just keeps declining. The PM points to existing bodies like the ANAO to say that we already have a strong integrity framework, but this ignores that in the past 1,000 days the ANAO has released nine detailed reports highlighting rorting, scandals, conflicts of interest, mismanagement and potential illegality. But the government just rolls on as if nothing has happened.

The PM has said that his statement of ministerial standards demands the highest level of integrity amongst ministers. But, of the 23 current members of the Morrison-Joyce cabinet, 12 ministers—more than half of the cabinet—have been implicated in integrity scandals. Between them, they've clocked up at least 20 scandals: sports rorts 1 and 2, commuter carparks, community safety grants, the Leppington Triangle, water buybacks, grassland gate, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant, apartment purchases on work trips, visas for au pairs, Paladin, Adani water approval after donations, media tip-offs about AFP raids, lobbying for a donor about wetland boundary changes, doctoring Sydney council documents, $21 million to donors to frack the Beetaloo Basin, Shine Energy's grant, tenders to an IT company owned by a minister's dad, exorbitant internet bills, and trade deals with the Chinese government and a Liberal donor company which the minister had shares in. These are the just the ones we know about, and they don't even include the work-based harassment scandals. If this is the highest level of integrity Australians can expect from cabinet ministers, the case for a national ICAC could not be clearer. It's no wonder the Prime Minister doesn't want one: a strong, independent integrity commission would leave half the cabinet table empty.