Federal ICAC demands reaching fever pitch

The pressure on Federal politicians to establish a national corruption watchdog has reached fever pitch as the extraordinary public support in polls and open letters combines with a push from legal experts and anti-corruption campaigners.

Today television advertisements will commence running across the country outlining the need for a national corruption watchdog – with teeth.

The Australia Institute, which has produced the commercial based on its research, says that while the endless supply of scandals has made a federal ICAC likely, there remains a risk of politicians attempting to placate public demands with a commission that lacks the powers needed to make it effective.

An issue whose time has come – 2017 recap:

  • January: The Australia Institute’s Open Letter signed by 41 eminent lawyers, former judges and corruption fighters calls for the establishment of a Federal anti-corruption watchdog.
  • June: Tony Fitzgerald works with The Australia Insitute on accountability principles which are put to all Federal Politicians in a survey.
  • August: National Accountability and the Law Conference held at Parliament House
  • October: Corruption fighters and former judges form National Integrity Commission
  • November: National Integrity Commission joins The Australia Institute in Canberra to launch blueprint design for national ICAC
  • January: New research by The Australia Institute puts the estimated cost of Australia’s slide in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index at $73 billion dollars
  • Polling shows support for a Federal ICAC continues to grow:
    • 65% support in March 2016
    • 80% support in June 2017
    • 88% support in December 2017

“There are few issues which unite Australians from across the political spectrum, but a national corruption watchdog is one of them,” Deputy Director of The Australia Institute, Ebony Bennett said.

“This commercial puts a powerful message into Australian lounge rooms and puts more pressure on politicians to, as the commercial says: ‘help politics help itself’.

“A national corruption watchdog is clearly under consideration by both major parties, but neither has a concrete commitment on the table at this time.

“The only outcome worse than a failure to establish a national anti-corruption body would be the creation of poorly designed anti-corruption body with insufficient powers and no ability to hold public hearings,” Bennett said.

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