THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
THURSDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: Socceroos; National Anti-Corruption Commission; Censure of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison; Whistleblower protections.
DAVID KOCH, HOST: The Albanese Government is closer to fulfilling its election promise to establish a National Anti-Corruption Commission with the legislation passing Parliament. That Commission has been designed to investigate public sector corruption. It comes as former Prime Minister Scott Morrison was formally censured in Federal Parliament for secretly appointing himself to multiple ministries during the pandemic and not telling anyone. For more, we're joined by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. Attorney-General you've labeled the passing of the anti-corruption commission as a historic day, what can we expect from it?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL MARK DREYFUS: It is a historic day Kochie but I just got to say before we go on: Go The Socceroos! It was such great news to wake up to.
KOCH: We don't need an investigation into them, that's for sure.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We do not. Back to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. We are establishing a powerful, independent and transparent National Anti-Corruption Commission. It's a great day for Australia for that reason. It passed both Houses of Parliament yesterday and we are now on our way to establishing this Commission by around the middle of next year. We've got to find a Commissioner, I've got to get the thing set up, but we've established the Commission with the law. It's the whole Parliament working together and that's really important.
KOCH: Australians would be surprised because most states have one of these, but not federally. Would this be enough to restore trust between Parliament and voters, do you reckon?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: It's part of the set of reforms that we are bringing. It's important. We're bringing reforms on whistleblower protection as well but we've got to do these things to restore trust and integrity, which took a real hit over the past nine years. So, I think that this is a really, really important measure. And as you just said in that question, it's not a few states - every Australian state and territory has got an anti-corruption commission. At the national level we've been lagging behind. Now we're going to have one too.
KOCH: Because the latest issue is Scott Morrison has become the first former leader to be condemned in the House of Reps. What's the significance of that? Would his actions fall under this Commission and what message does that send to politicians going forward?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: This is a huge message to politicians. It was right that the Parliament mark this Kochie. We've never seen a Prime Minister do this before. Swearing himself into multiple ministries and then keeping it secret. The Solicitor-General condemned it. Former High Court Judge Virginia Bell, who was willing to do a quick inquiry and report, condemned it, and it's right the Parliament mark it as well. We need to make sure this never happens again. Today, we'll be introducing some legislation that will require that no Prime Minister or any minister again will be sworn in secret. It will have to be made public.
KOCH: And also you're strengthening the protections around whistleblowers as well. Why is that needed?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We need people who see wrongdoing of any kind in our Australian government to report it and then they need to know that they'll be protected against reprisal if they do report it. It's as simple as that. We want people who see wrongdoing to come forward with it, to tell their superiors and if their superiors won't do anything about it, they should be able to go public with it and be protected.
KOCH: Yeah, it's a really important check and balance on how our how our governments work. Mark Dreyfus, appreciate your time.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Thank you.