Another doughnut year for a federal ICAC

by Bill Browne

The Australia Institute warned last year that the Budget’s staffing level figures revealed that the Commonwealth Integrity Commission was off the table. This year, the Budget offers no more comfort that an integrity commission is coming:

Table: Average Staffing Levels (ASL)

These numbers are the final confirmation that the Morrison Government has no plans to fulfill its election promise of implementing an integrity commission, despite mixed messages from the Deputy Prime Minister, the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General as recently as last month.

The Morrison Government first announced it would implement an integrity commission in December 2018. Eight months later, then Attorney-General Christian Porter taunted Labor, saying “It’ll be done a lot quicker than the promise those opposite made as to when they would do it; it’ll be a lot quicker than the 12 months that they promised.”

Twelve hundred days after the original announcement, the Morrison Government has still not introduced its integrity commission bill for debate. Independent MP Helen Haines and Greens Senator Larissa Waters both have Bills that could be debated and passed if the Government were to support them.

A growing number of Coalition figures have joined the call for an integrity commission with teeth, one with the powers it needs to investigate corruption: Bass MP Bridget Archer and Bennelong MP John Alexander, senior NSW senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and NSW Treasurer Matt Kean. They join former judges, the federal crossbench and Opposition, academics, civil society and the overwhelming majority of Australians.

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