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Integrity – a strong National Anti-Corruption Commission

Integrity – a strong National Anti-Corruption Commission

Ms SPENDER (Wentworth) (14:43):

My question is to the Attorney-General, the member for Isaacs.

The Labor Party went to the election with a commitment to legislating a national anticorruption commission. One of the design principles in this policy was that the NACC would have the power to hold public hearings. Could the Attorney please explain why public hearings are essential requirements for an integrity commission and rule out any deals which remove that power?  

Mr DREYFUS (Isaacs—Attorney-General and Cabinet Secretary) (14:44): I thank the member for Wentworth for her question and thank her for the constructive engagement that she has shown with me during the extensive consultation that I have had with the whole of the parliament, including the opposition and the crossbench in both houses, on the formation of this legislation. I do look forward to introducing the legislation for a national anticorruption commission this week.

I say again: the Australian people believe in integrity. The Australian people voted for a government which will deliver a powerful, transparent and independent national anticorruption commission. It's a commission that will have jurisdiction to investigate serious or systemic corruption and will deliver a central pillar of the integrity framework in this country. It will help restore trust and enforce standards of integrity and accountability in our federal government system.

Some three years ago Labor released design principles based on the advice of experts, which will ensure that the commission operates effectively. The legislation we are bringing to the parliament will reflect these principles and go to the specific matter raised by the member for Wentworth—the holding of public hearings. One of the deficiencies of the model that was put forward by the former government, who of course never brought legislation to the parliament, was that public hearings would not be available in respect of allegations made against minister or allegations made against members of parliament. As I said repeatedly during public debate about the model that the former government had put forward, that was wrong. We have made clear in our design principles that public hearings must be available to this commission because the experience of the eight existing state and territory commissions has shown us that, in order for an anticorruption commission such as we are proposing to be effective, there must be the possibility of public hearings, and that's what the parliament will see in the legislation we bring to the parliament later this week.

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