A National Integrity Commission: an idea whose time has come

Australia’s trust in federal politics is at an all-time low. Australians have never trusted their politicians less. When operational, the National Anti-Corruption Commission will investigate and expose corruption and serious misconduct at a federal level and help restore faith in our democracy.

All Australian states and territories have integrity commissions, with NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) the most well-known.

Until now, there has been no similar body at the federal level, investigating integrity issues and exposing corruption –  but this is set to change in 2023 after the Parliament legislated the Albanese Government’s National Anti-Corruption Commission.

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 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. It passed in November 2022, and the Commission is expected to be operational by mid-2023.

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