Australia: Australia’s proposed anti-corruption commission creates ‘retrograde’ system

The federal government’s draft anti-corruption commission legislation lacks any credibility and would create a weak, ineffective body that would actually degrade part of Australia’s existing integrity framework, Transparency International has warned.

The government is currently consulting with key stakeholders on draft legislation for its proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission, after years of delay and missed deadlines.

Prior to releasing the draft legislation, the proposed model was already subject to scathing criticism, particularly for its lack of public hearings, the high threshold it requires to investigate matters, its inability to act directly on public tip-offs, and the favourable way it treats politicians and public servants compared to law enforcement officials.

Transparency International Australia’s submission, which is yet to be published, says the draft legislation not only lacks credibility, it actually creates a “retrograde” system in critical areas.

The current system, Transparency International argued, allows for public hearings of corruption matters through the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

“The ability to hold public hearings in certain circumstances is essential,” the submission said. “The CIC would be a retrograde step as it winds back existing (ACLEI) powers to hold public hearings in respect of the bulk of the agency’s operations.”

It says the commission’s differing treatment of politicians and law enforcement is a fundamental failing and warns the “commission must be fair and equitable in its treatment of all federal public officials irrespective of status or role”.

“The proposed CIC model does not yet meet the necessary criteria to render it effective and credible,” the submission says. “The two-division model is a fundamental flaw that predicates other significant shortcomings.”

Transparency International said, however, that the CIC model could be saved with significant changes. It also said the proposed funding levels were a good starting point.

The original full article can be found at theguardian.com

(Photo: Casimiro/Alamy)

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