The Conversation

What has Labor promised on an integrity commission and can it deliver a federal ICAC by Christmas?

  • Written by Yee-Fui Ng, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Monash University
The Conversation

The election results are in and Labor has won enough seats to form government, either as a majority or with the support of independents. What will this mean for political integrity?

The main election promise Labor has made on integrity is to establish what it says will be a “powerful, transparent and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission” (sometimes shortened to NACC).

So, what is Labor’s model for an anti-corruption commission?

Read more: How do the major parties rate on an independent anti-corruption commission? We asked 5 experts

Power for public hearings

Labor has proposed a robust commission with strong powers, coupled with checks and balances to ensure it does not abuse its powers.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission will have broad jurisdiction to investigate serious and systemic corruption by Commonwealth ministers, public servants, ministerial advisers, statutory office holders, government agencies and MPs.

Crucially, it would have the power to conduct public hearings if it believes it’s in the public interest.

Labor’s model balances the seriousness of allegations with any unfair prejudice to a person’s reputation or unfair exposure of a person’s private life.

This is a proportionate model that enhances public trust through public hearings, but also takes into account legitimate concerns about damage to an individual’s reputation.

By contrast, the Coalition’s proposed model did not include the power for public hearings.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission will have the power to make findings of fact, including findings of corrupt conduct. It could refer matters involving criminality to law enforcement authorities.

Unlike the Coalition’s policy, the National Anti-Corruption Commission will also have retrospective powers to investigate alleged misconduct from 15 years ago.

Labor’s National Anti-Corruption Commission can act in response to referrals, including from whistleblowers and public complaints, consistent with other integrity bodies.

By contrast, the Coalition’s model did not allow referrals from the public.

Importantly, the strong powers of the National Anti-Corruption Commission will be counterbalanced by external accountability mechanisms to “watch the watchdog” via parliament and the courts.

There would be oversight by a parliamentary joint committee. Its decisions would also be subject to judicial review, to ensure the body’s compliance with the law, due process and other standards.

Can Labor deliver by Christmas?

Labor has promised to pass legislation establishing the National Anti-Corruption Commission by the end of the year. Is this feasible?

There are still some aspects of Labor’s model that remain unclear, such as the budget that will be allocated to establish and run the body.

For the commission to be effective, it requires sufficient funding and staff to carry out its investigations.

Also, the full design of the National Anti-Corruption Commission has not been announced, such as how many commissioners or deputy commissioners it would have.

It is also unclear whether it would have a corruption prevention division, which is a pro-integrity function that monitors major corruption risks across all sectors.

These details would need to be worked through expediently to get a bill up by Christmas.

Labor has said it will draw on a draft bill proposed by independent MP Helen Haine in 2020. This may potentially expedite the drafting process.

Labor has said it will draw on a draft bill proposed by independent MP Helen Haine in 2020. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

The composition of the Senate will also be crucial to determine whether Labor can pass this bill, especially if the Coalition seeks to block it.

The electorate has spoken. The time is overdue to introduce a federal anti-corruption commission.

It is time for the new government to act – without delay. Australians deserve a robust system of accountability that will keep our politicians honest.

Read more: The 'car park rorts' story is scandalous. But it will keep happening unless we close grant loopholes

Authors: Yee-Fui Ng, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Monash University

Read more https://theconversation.com/what-has-labor-promised-on-an-integrity-commission-and-can-it-deliver-a-federal-icac-by-christmas-182945

Health & Wellness

6 Treatments to Reduce & Eliminate Chest Wrinkles

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

When it comes to skin care, many people place a greater emphasis on the face than on other regions of the body. While this is understandable, it does not negate the fact that other regions of the ...

Dental Habits You Must Practice For A Better Smile

Hashtag.net.au - avatar Hashtag.net.au

It's no secret that having a great smile can do wonders for your self-confidence. A beautiful smile is one of the first things people notice about you, and it can make a lasting impression. Unfort...

Various Phases of Vein Disease and When to Seek Treatment

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

The different systems in the body function simultaneously to ensure the body is healthy. This is why it always affects the entire body when one system falls to an infection. Parts like the veins p...

Keep glowing: 5 tips for maintaining that stunning cosmetic dentistry

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

Whatever cosmetic dentistry you’ve undertaken - whether it be bonding, implants, veneers or something different - you want to keep your new teeth absolutely glowing. After all, this type of d...


Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion