The National Integrity Committee of former Judges today call on the Morrison Government to release draft legislation for a National Integrity Commission. It has been nine months since Attorney General Christian Porter stated that legislation for the proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) would be released ‘shortly’, and 20 months since the consultation paper for the CIC was first released.
Polling released by the Australia Institute today supports the call from the National Integrity Committee and crossbench MPs, and shows that three in four Australians (74%) support the establishment of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission this year.
Helen Haines will today formally table her intention to introduce a bills package in the House of Representatives to establish an Australian Federal Integrity Commission (AFIC), and other measures to boost integrity in Federal Parliament.
“This new Australian Federal Integrity Commission (AFIC) proposal will respond to these concerns yet still offer a robust model that meets the ‘Beechworth Principles’. It is designed to be a constructive consensus bill that attracts the support of all my parliamentary colleagues, and present to the House a way forward on an integrity commission. We must do this because our politics has never needed it more. And we must do this because it is what we were elected to do,” said Helen Haines, Independent Member for Indi.
“A Federal Integrity Commission is a priority for the Australian people and it should be a priority for the Government. I call on the Government to introduce their promised legislation before the end of the year. If this Parliament does not take a stand against corruption, then what message are we sending to the Australian people?” said Rebekha Sharkie, Centre Alliance Member for Mayo
“Good governance and accountability are cornerstones of democracy. Australia needs a federal integrity commission to ensure proper scrutiny and investigation of government,” said Zali Steggall OAM, Independent Member for Warringah.
“Australia has been waiting in vain for almost two years for the Federal Government to progress some sort of integrity agency, so once again it’s left to the crossbench to get things moving. The country is crying out for a strong and independent anti-corruption body with teeth that can hold public hearings and launch its own probes. Every state in Australia has a body to investigate corruption and a national one to watch over federal politicians is well overdue. The crossbench is onside. I say to the major parties: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” said Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Clark.
David Harper AM QC, member of the National Integrity Committee and former Judge of the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal welcomed Dr Haines’ initiative.
“In February, we recognised that an integrity commission with broad jurisdiction, strong investigative powers and the ability to hold fair public hearings was central to the Beechworth Principles released by Dr Haines in Indi,” said David Harper AM QC, National Integrity Committee member and former Judge of the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal.
“The Australian Federal Integrity Commission bill package named by Dr Haines in the House today signals to Parliament the importance of bringing those principles to reality,” Mr Harper said.
The members of the National Integrity Committee auspiced by the Australia Institute are:
Mary Gaudron QC, former Judge of the High Court; Anthony Whealy QC, former Judge of the NSW Court of Appeal; Paul Stein AC QC, former Judge of the NSW Court of Appeal; Stephen Charles AO QC, former Judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal; David Harper AM QC, former Judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal; Margaret White AO, former Judge of the Queensland Court Appeal; and Carmel McLure AC QC, former Judge of the Western Australian Court of Appeal.
The National Integrity Committee’s Principles for designing a National Integrity Commission can be found here. The National Integrity Committee’s statement in full and new polling from the Australia Institute can be downloaded below.