Here’s what you need to know about the debate over Australia’s long-awaited federal anti-corruption commission.
What is an anti-corruption commission and why doesn’t Australia have one federally?
Every Australian state and territory has an individual anti-corruption agency, but Australia does not currently have one operating at a federal level.
In August, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said he hoped a bill to establish the commission would be brought forward in the next sitting fortnight.
“Recent polling shows about 88 per cent of Australians want the federal anti-corruption commission so it’s well overdue, and it’s an important reform.”
What is the case for public hearings?
He pointed to several state anti-corruption commissions, which usually hold private hearings apart from instances wherein a case passes a ‘public interest test’, which would then lead to a public hearing.
In recent years, several figures have been subjected to public hearings in different jurisdictions in Australia, such as Gladys Berejiklian, who faced the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) following her relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire.
Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian faced a public hearing by the NSW ICAC in 2021. Source: AAP
What is the case against public hearings?
Mr Morrison previously criticised public hearings and the model of the NSW ICAC, describing it as a “kangaroo court”.
“I support the integrity commission, we’re working with the government in that regard, and I believe that there’ll be a bill that we can support.”
What will the government’s proposal look like?
“In order for an anti-corruption commission such as the one we are proposing to be fully effective (it must have) the possibility of public hearings.”
Key crossbench MPs have promised not to impede the passage of the legislation, but warned they would not rubber stamp the bill.
“We also want the national anti-corruption commission to be independent, fully funded, have independent oversight, and then have that ability to hold public and private hearings, when they’re in the public interest as well.”