PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS - Commonwealth Integrity Commission

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS - Commonwealth Integrity Commission Main Image

Those opposite have deemed this unnecessary for reasons I don't understand. History teaches us, certainly coming from New South Wales, that politicians are human beings, and, like other human beings, they are prey to the frailties of the human race. We've seen this since the days of Paddy Crick, a New South Wales lands minister who accepted bribes for land parcels given to people of poor repute and other people in the community, and the days of Rex Jackson, a Labor member of parliament who ended up in jail for accepting bribes to get people out of jail quickly. I grew up in the Askin years in New South Wales, when Bob Askin let illegal casinos flourish by turning a blind eye for bribes. He was a bank teller, yet he left an estate of many millions of pounds when he died.

There's no doubt that we need a national integrity commission that has teeth and will work in a way that can restore confidence in the political process in Australia. We've had sports rorts, car park rorts, rorts of every kind, and the ex-New South Wales Premier thought pork-barrelling was fine; everyone could do it, and it was fine. After deliberately misleading the public in the last election, this government has done nothing to bring about transparency and stamp out the rorts that have been occurring. They blatantly refuse to be held to account. They blatantly refuse to bring forward a bill that would put in place an integrity commission with teeth. This place should have no tolerance for corruption, no tolerance for immoral actions and no tolerance for rorting.

There are many members of this chamber—on this side, on the cross bench and indeed in the government—who stand for integrity and transparency in government and want to have an integrity commission. If successful at the next election the Labor government will, as a priority, establish a powerful, transparent and independent national anticorruption commission. It's time that we put an end to the Morrison government's shameful inaction and lack of transparency. We believe it is now long past time for a Commonwealth body to be established to tackle corruption in federal government and in federal politics. We need a national anticorruption commission that will operate with all the independence, powers and resources of a standing royal commission. It's no good having a body that has no teeth. It is no good having a body that doesn't have the independent power of investigation. We don't want the weak proposal that the government has put forward and failed to deliver. A successful commission will need to have a broad jurisdiction to investigate and hold to account Commonwealth ministers, senior public servants, statutory office holders, government agencies, parliamentarians, personal staff of politicians and other Commonwealth public officials.

We have seen so much money wasted on rorting and really questionable policies. After eight long years in office the Liberals have failed to take any action to tackle corruption, to tackle transparency in government policy. It has left the Commonwealth as the only Australian government without a body dedicated to tackling corruption by public officials. The Morrison Government's refusal to honour its election promise to establish an anticorruption commission is allowing government ministers to avoid being held to account and, indeed, allowing people of other political parties to be held to account. I quite agree with the member for Bass that this needs to be bipartisan and needs to have clear and full support across the parliament. If the government is going to be held to account for the scandals that they've produced, and if the opposition is to be held to account for what they do, we need an anticorruption commission with teeth and that will deliver policies that all Australians can see transparency and community justice from. It's time we put an end to the Morrison government's shameful inaction.