The Australia Institute’s National Integrity Committee of corruption fighters and retired judges has today released the next stage in the design of a National Integrity Commission.

The National Integrity Committee’s Blueprint provides analysis on:

  • The appointment of an independent Commissioner nominated by bipartisan committee
  • The need for a National Integrity Commission to have a broad jurisdiction to investigate any conduct of any person that affects the impartial exercise of public office:
    • Not limited to public officials, as the commission needs to be able to investigate those seeking to influence innocent public officials, for example tenderers colluding over a contract or permit application
    • Not limited to criminal conduct, as this rules out many issues of public interest, for example Brian Burke’s lobbying activities and the Victorian mafias alleged political connections
  • The need for a National Integrity Commission to be able to hold public hearings if the commissioners considers it would make the investigation more effective and be in the public interest:
    • Not limited to exceptional circumstances
    • Without a reasonable grounds test, as this enables those under investigation to challenge decisions in court, delaying investigations unnecessarily and prematurely revealing all evidence collected to date
  • The objectives of a National Integrity Commission should be to investigate and expose serious or systemic corruption in public administration:
    • This is achieved through holding investigations with all the powers of a Royal Commission, including public hearings
    • The commission is not a judicial body and is not designed to prosecute, but can refer cases to the DPP if there is evidence of criminal conduct
    • Referrals for prosecution for misconduct have a high conviction rate, but some are acquitted due to the different onus of proof and rules of evidence in civil and criminal proceedings, and the definition of corrupt conduct being broader than criminal offences

Part 1: Jurisdiction

Part 2: Outcomes & Objectives

Part 3: Public Hearings

Part 4: Appointment of Commissioners