Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Verdict Is In - Morrison's No Integrity Commission Is A Dud

26 May 2021

The verdict is in on Scott Morrison’s No Integrity Commission – it’s so weak, so secretive and so lacking in independence that instead of exposing corruption it would cover it up.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS 
 
VERDICT IS IN - MORRISON'S NO INTEGRITY COMMISSION IS A DUD

The verdict is in on Scott Morrison’s No Integrity Commission – it’s so weak, so secretive and so lacking in independence that instead of exposing corruption it would cover it up.
 
Submissions finally made public by the Attorney-General’s Department have again confirmed the Morrison Government’s proposed Commonwealth “Integrity” Commission is a dud.
 
The Law Council says “the draft legislation has significant shortcomings – both in the scope of the corruption it can investigate and in the unnecessary complexity of the mechanisms it requires” and has again said the “draft legislation should be substantively revised and amended before it is introduced into Parliament.”
 
In its submission the Australian Federal Police Association says the draft legislation has “serious deficiencies” because it doesn’t allow the public to refer cases to the commission.
 
The Police Federation of Australia is rightly outraged that while inquiries into police officers would be held in public, inquiries into members of parliament will be held in secret.
 
It is no wonder the Centre for Public Integrity has denounced Mr Morrison’s proposed “integrity” commission as “the weakest watchdog in the country”.
 
Former judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal, the Hon Stephen Charles AO QC described Mr Morrison’s proposal as “an attempt to protect ministers, politicians and senior public servants from investigations into serious corruption”.
 
Geoffrey Watson SC, former counsel assisting the NSW ICAC says the draft bill is “designed to cover up corruption, not expose it”.
 
Former Victorian Supreme Court judge, the Hon David Harper AM says it is a “toothless watchdog that fails to hold politicians to account and risks further eroding confidence in our political and democratic processes”.
 
In its current form, this is a commission that:

  • would be unable to instigate its own independent inquiries into Government corruption;
  • would be unable to hold public hearings when a corruption investigation relates to politicians or public servants; and
  • is likely to be prevented from investigating any of the multiple past scandals of the Morrison Government.

The ever-growing list of scandals surrounding the Morrison Government shows why Australia needs the powerful and independent anti-corruption commission and why Mr Morrison and his colleagues will do everything they can to stop one from being established.
 
Sports Rorts, Grassgate, Angus Taylor’s documents, the Airport land rort – the ever-growing list of scandals surrounding the Morrison Government have graphically illustrated why Australia needs a powerful and independent anti-corruption commission – and why Mr Morrison and his colleagues will do everything in their power to stop it.

But after eight long years in office the Liberals have failed to take any action to tackle corruption, leaving the Commonwealth the only Australian government without a body dedicated to tackling corruption by public officials.
 
This month’s Budget papers confirm not a single staff member has been allocated for the commission for at least another 14 months. https://budget.gov.au/2021-22/content/bp4/download/bp4_2021-22.pdf
 
Labor is committed to the establishment of a powerful, transparent and independent national anti-corruption commission.
 
It’s long past time for Scott Morrison to stop stalling and start acting. 
 
WEDNESDAY, 26 MAY 2021