coalition urged to keep its electoral promise to set up a national integrity commission | Australia News
Nearly 60 prominent Australian judges, lawyers and experts have urged the Coalition to deliver on a key election promise by establishing a strong and effective national anti-corruption commission.
In an open letter on Tuesday, prominent jurists such as Mary Gaudron, Margaret White, Paul Stein, Tony Fitzgerald and Margaret McMurdo, said the government had kept Australians waiting for 922 days after promising before the last election that a national anti-corruption body would be one of its “priority reforms” in the 46th parliament.
The government has said it will legislate on its integrity commission within 12 months of taking office.
Since then, the government has repeatedly missed the deadline to establish such a body. When an exposure draft for his proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission was finally released, experts sharply criticized it as weak and ineffective.
The open letter, organized by the Australia Institute, warned of a lack of trust in government and politics, and said that a full anti-corruption commission was essential to “restore confidence in our democracy”.
“A National Integrity Commission is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our integrity system and restore confidence in our democracy,” the letter said.
“A major cause of the current deterioration in trust is the suspicion that corruption permeates many government decisions and actions. “
The federal government is still consulting on its exposure draft. Most of the submissions received so far have criticized the proposed model.
The proposed CIC would not allow public hearings on corruption in the public sector, require a high threshold of evidence to begin an investigation, cannot take public denunciations, and cannot find corruption. Critics have also expressed concern over its narrow definition of corruption and the two-tier system it creates for government and law enforcement corruption.
Independent MP Helen Haines proposed her own anti-corruption commission last year and introduced a bill to the lower house.
She told the Guardian that the Coalition’s failure to come up with its own legislation was a broken election promise.
“The government and the opposition began the 2019 elections with a commitment to the Australian people to create an integrity commission in the next parliament,” she said. “So far we have not seen any government legislation on the parliamentary floor. We have seen laws from me and the Greens, but we have seen nothing from the government.
She questioned the need for further consultations. The evidence on how to create an effective national integrity commission was clear, she said.
“We know what we need, we know what we have been promised and the government has failed on this.”
The open letter, which will be published in the Sydney Morning Herald, was also signed by former Liberal opposition leader John Hewson.
Australia Institute principal researcher Bill Browne said there was an urgent need to create a strong national integrity commission.
“Breaking this election promise by failing to legislate on a federal anti-corruption body, which will be operational before the next election, would only further erode public confidence in our federal parliament,” he said.
“Research from the Australia Institute shows that 88% of Australians support the creation of an anti-corruption watchdog. It is time for politics to help each other – a national integrity commission is crucial to restoring public confidence in our political institutions and democracy.