Michael West’s recent report, ‘A History of Misconduct: The Case for a Federal ICAC’.
The Australian Government condemns corruption in all its forms. Accordingly, the Government has a robust, multi-faceted approach to combating corruption in the federal public sector. Under this framework, multiple agencies have responsibilities for preventing, detecting and responding to corruption, including in relation to matters that allegedly involve politicians. For example, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority audits and reports on the use of work expenses by parliamentarians and their staff, and the Australian Federal Police investigates corruption-related criminal offences, such as fraud and abuse of public office.
The government is firmly committed to ensuring our federal integrity framework is as robust as possible to maximise public confidence in our national institutions. That is why the Government has committed to establishing a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) to enhance national integrity arrangements across the federal public sector. The CIC will be a centralised, specialist centre for the investigation of corruption in the public sector. It will also work with agencies to build resilience to corruption and bolster agency capability to detect, deter and investigate corrupt conduct. It will have a broad jurisdiction, including over departments, statutory agencies, and parliamentarians and their staff.
Through the CIC, the government will target serious criminal corruption that presents a threat to good public administration. It will provide expert capability to investigate allegations of serious criminal corruption within the public sector. The CIC will focus on investigating suspected criminal corrupt conduct, maintaining the role of existing integrity mechanisms for dealing with less serious misconduct. This approach will ensure that the CIC’s significant powers are reserved for use in appropriately serious cases. It will also ensure that the CIC complements, rather than duplicates, existing integrity arrangements.
Further information on the CIC model can be found in the consultation paper available at https://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/commonwealth-integrity-commission.aspx.
While the legislation to establish the CIC will be complex, the government is focused on ensuring that the CIC is properly designed, appropriately resourced and informed by thorough consultation. To that end, the government will shortly release a draft of the CIC legislation for public consultation.