The integrity of the government is a major issue for the people of Ryan. An #OurDemocracy survey taken during the 2022 federal election revealed:
- 98% supported a federal anti-corruption body
- 97% supported caps on political donations
- 100% supported disclosure of who makes political donations,
- 93% believed large political donations undermine our democracy,
- 93% supported limits on election campaign spending,
- 98% supported disclosure of professional lobbying of politicians
- 100% supported truth in political advertising laws.
Pretty convincing numbers! I held a forum on the issue, where the people of Ryan told me they believe some politicians deliberately undermine public trust in governments, so people will disengage, meaning they can get away with corrupt conduct. I agree.
I'm fighting to make it harder for politicians to be corrupt, and easier for us to stop them and punish them when they do.
The Greens have been fighting for a federal anti-corruption body for more than a decade, putting forward a number of bills and proposals in the federal parliament. These bills were not supported by the major parties.
- National Integrity Commission Bill 2010
- National Integrity Commissioner Bill 2012
- National Integrity Commission Bill 2013
- National Integrity Commission Bill 2017
- National Integrity Commission Bill 2018
- National Integrity Commission Bill 2019
In 2019 the Senate passed Larissa Waters’ bill. Then Prime Minister Scott Morrison had promised to establish a federal anti-corruption commission but his government used their majority in the House of Representatives to prevent the Bill going ahead, and talked about a model for a much weaker body that operated behind closed doors, without putting up a Bill.
During the 2022 election campaign period, Morrison claimed it was Labor’s fault he had not established a federal anti-corruption commission, despite never putting legislation forward. Labor responded by promising to legislate an anti-corruption body by the end of 2022.
Voting for the National Anti-Corruption Commission
Parliament was recalled at the end of 2022 to allow the passage of Labor’s bills to establish a National Anti-Corruption Commission. The Greens, along with Independents like Helen Haines, and David Pocock, fought for improvements to the legislation but supported the passage of the Bill.
Problems with Labor’s bill
Labor’s bill had a number of weaknesses which undermine the intent of the new body, including:
- Lack of powers for the NACC inspector
- Too much reliance on private hearings, with public hearings ‘only in exceptional circumstances’
- Too much opportunity for the sitting government to influence staff appointments
- Potential to stifle investigative journalism
- Lack of protection for whistleblowers
The Greens put forward a number of amendments to strengthen the Bill by ensuring the independence of the Commission, and protecting it from future governments that might want to weaken oversight.
Most of the amendments were voted down. The Coalition voted for a Greens amendment which expanded the powers of the NACC inspector, enabling them to compel witnesses to answer questions and to force the production of documents.
Labor and the LNP voted together to prevent the Commission from holding more public hearings.
In my speech on the Bill, I questioned Labor’s resistance to strengthening the Bill:
- How can the independence of the NACC be guaranteed while former politicians can be appointed as commissioners?
- How can transparency really be achieved when the bar for public hearings is so high?
- How can whistleblowers be protected?
And how can we be assured of the independence of elected representatives, when cash-for-access and corporate donations are still allowed?
Watch my speech in full
How to clean up politics
The Greens have been fighting for rules that will stifle corruption and make it possible to punish people who abuse their power in public office for years. We’re the only party with a plan to get the dirty money and the grifters out of politics.
As well as establishing a body to deal with corruption at the federal level, the Greens want to:
- Ban corporate donations to political parties (Labor and the Liberal party have taken over $230 million in donations from corporations in the last 10 years)
- Ban 'cash for access' meetings where a corporation or key lobby group can spend a sum of money (often $27,500) to get special access to Ministers
- Strengthen donation disclosure laws
- Fund the Australian National Audit Office to audit all government programs and stop the rorting of public funds
- Close the revolving door that allows ex-Ministers to take cushy jobs in industries they regulated, or key industry personnel walk right into senior political or government jobs
- Take corporate interests out of essential services by bringing more of our services back into public ownership