A Shorten Labor Government will move to help build grater trust in government by establishing a National Integrity Commission; the new NIC will prevent, investigate and eliminate corruption inside the federal government and the public sector.
After having spent a decade prosecuting white collar crime and advising on anti-bribery and corruption, I hope todays announcement is matched by the Turnbull Government. We need to have a bi-partisan approach to ensure our community can continue to trust that our institutions are above reproach and represent our interests to the best of their ability.
Legislation to establish the National Integrity Commission will be introduced into Parliament within the first 12 months of a Shorten Labor Government.
The National Integrity Commission will adhere to the following seven design principles:
- The Commission will operate as an independent statutory body, with sufficient resources to ensure it is able to carry out its functions regardless of the government of the day.
- The Commission would be constituted by one Commissioner and two Deputy Commissioners, each of whom would serve for a single, fixed, five-year term.
- The Commission will have sufficiently broad jurisdiction and freedom of action to operate as a standing Royal Commission into serious and systemic corruption by Commonwealth parliamentarians or their staff, public servants, statutory office holders, the Commonwealth judiciary and the Governor-General.
- The Commission will be granted the investigative powers of a Royal Commission, including search and surveillance powers, the power to compel witnesses and subpoena documents and carry out its own investigations, with warrant oversight by the Federal Court.
- While the presumption will be that hearings will be held in private, the Commission will have discretion to hold hearings in public where it determines it is in the public interest to do so. Labor will continue to consult on the appropriate threshold for such hearings.
- The Commission will only be empowered to make findings of fact. Any findings that could constitute criminal conduct would be referred to the AFP or Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.
- A Joint Standing Committee of the Parliament will be established to oversee the Commission and will be empowered to require the Commission to provide information about its work. That Committee will be responsible for appointing the Commissioners. The Commission will also report to Parliament on its performance annually.
In government, Labor will continue to consult with experts on the design details of the Commission.
More information on Labors policy for a National Integrity Commission can be found here.