A National Integrity Commission
Posted December 08, 2017
What would it take for the Parliament to establish a National Integrity Commission? Cathy asked the Prime Minister in Question Time.
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:21): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, what would it take for this parliament to establish a National Integrity Commission? Over the past fortnight, the opposition and the government have been arguing about integrity, transparency and accountability. Will the Prime Minister commit to a National Integrity Commission to investigate and expose corruption and misconduct, particularly in Australia, and would it happen in this term?
Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:21): I thank the member for Indi for her question, and I want to acknowledge her very keen interest in this issue. Integrity and transparency, as we have been discussing, are absolutely vital to ensure that we maintain and enhance trust in our democratic system. That is exactly why we have announced the reforms in respect of foreign interference and foreign political donations today.
Australia is consistently ranked by Transparency International as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, because we have—and I'm sure I speak for all honourable members—zero tolerance of corruption. But what we need to do, of course, is to live up to that, and the test now is with the Labor Party in respect of Senator Dastyari. You don't need an Integrity Commission to tell you that what Senator Dastyari did was wrong. You don't need an Integrity Commission—and I'm not contesting the merits of what the honourable member is saying—to tell you that every day the Leader of the Opposition leaves Senator Dastyari in the Labor caucus is a day the Labor Party demonstrates its unfitness to lead.
The establishment of a National Integrity Commission would not necessarily better guarantee protection against corruption. A National Integrity Commission, depending on how it was designed, could add some benefits, but it is something that would need to be considered with great care. Over the years I have been very sceptical about some of these commissions. As we all know, some of them have done better than others. It's been a pretty patchy performance. We have a very robust multi-agency approach, and what we have, of course, is: the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security that has the powers of a royal commission, the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity for particular importance, and the AFP's own Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre. We are very focused on ensuring that government governance, whether it's the Public Service, agencies or politicians, is absolutely held to account and there is zero tolerance for corruption.
There has recently been a Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission. I notice that it didn't recommend the establishment of one but, nonetheless, its recommendations are being very carefully considered by the government. We absolutely have the same objective: zero corruption and zero tolerance for corruption. We have many agencies that are working on it, and I will always look forward to working with and speaking with the honourable member to see how we can ensure that our zero tolerance for corruption is all better and better carried out into action.