Crossbench: Legislate National Integrity Commission with Teeth

Crossbench MPs and Senators have joined with eminent retired Judges and corruption fighters to call for the Federal Government to legislate for a National Integrity Commission – but one that has real teeth.

In particular, the Coalition Government’s proposed NIC model is deficient in two key areas:

  • the inability to hold public hearings if the Commissioner deems it appropriate.
  • the inability for the Commission to initiate investigations itself, and to receive complaints directly from the public.

“Integrity and accountability are critical features of a healthy democracy. Without a Federal Integrity Commission with teeth, public trust and confidence in our Federal Parliament will continue eroding,” said The Hon David Harper AM, former Victorian Supreme Court Judge and member of the Australia Institute National Integrity Committee.

Centre Alliance Crossbench MP Rebekha Sharkie said Independents and Minor Party Members wanted the 46th Parliament to establish a transparent, publicly accessible and properly resourced agency that could do the job the Australian people expected it to do.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity so let’s do it once and let’s do it right,” said Rebekha Sharkie, Centre Alliance Member for Mayo.

“This is such an important area of public policy but the Government is ignoring it,” said Senator Rex Patrick, Centre Alliance.

“I will introduce legislation for an ICAC with teeth. The latest Crown saga reinforces the need for a real ICAC,” said Adam Bandt, Greens Member for Melbourne.

“There’s an urgent need for a National Integrity Commission and not the woefully inadequate model the Government has put forward. The community is sick and tired of dodgy behaviour in Canberra. They want to see real action to tackle corruption – not just a pretence or half-baked measures,” said Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Clark.

“Australians have an expectation that the Parliament and public service meet the highest standards of integrity. We urgently need an effective, national anti-corruption body that is independent, well-resourced and with broad jurisdiction. It’s time for transparency and accountability,” said Zali Steggall, Independent Member for Warringah.

“Australians’ trust in Parliament is very low. I will work with my Crossbench colleagues in the House and Senate for the establishment of a fully-resourced commission that has independent authority to investigate, to hold public hearings, to deal effectively with political and public sector misconduct and corruption and to publish its findings. This is a clear way forward to restore trust in our Parliament,” said Helen Haines, Independent Member for Indi.

“The Parliament is less than four weeks old and already we have seen four cases that would have been referred to a Federal ICAC and according to the Government there’s nothing to see here? It’s disgraceful – we need to get the dirty money out of politics and a Federal ICAC with teeth is the way to do it,” said Senator Jacqui Lambie, Independent Senator for Tasmania.

The Australia Institute National Integrity Committee of retired Judges has put forward a design blueprint and implementation plan for any National Integrity Commission.

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