Australia’s trust in federal politics is at an all-time low. Australians have never trusted our politicians less. To restore faith in our democracy and help politics help itself, it is time to create an independent anti-corruption watchdog to investigate and expose corruption and serious misconduct at a federal level.
All Australian states and territories have integrity commissions, with NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) the most well-known.
There is no similar body at the federal level, investigating integrity issues and exposing corruption – although there are more limited integrity agencies (for example, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, or ACLEI).
The Australia Institute has been making the case for a national integrity commission since January 2017, when 49 prominent Australians signed our open letter calling on the Prime Minister to establish a federal anti-corruption watchdog.
In October 2017, a group of former judges then established the National Integrity Committee under the auspices of the Australia Institute. Since then, the Committee has prosecuted the case for a national integrity commission through research, public education, and commentary.
In January 2018, the Labor Opposition committed to legislating a national integrity commission. In December 2018 the Coalition Government made the same commitment. After the Coalition Government failed to legislate a commission during its term, integrity became an election issue and a “super-majority” advocating for a strong anti-corruption commission was elected. In October 2022, the Labor Government introduced legislation for a National Anti-Corruption Commission.