Time is ripe for a National Integrity Commissioner
When Parliament resumes, the Australian Greens will move to refer their bill to establish a National Integrity Commissioner to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee and simultaneously introduce it into the House of Representatives.
"It is very clear that the time is ripe for a National Integrity Commissioner to help rebuild public confidence in our parliament and public service," Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
The National Integrity Commissioner Bill 2010 would establish a national anti-corruption body charged with overseeing public officials and Commonwealth agencies. Its powers and functions would be based on the existing Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner which currently covers the Australian Federal Policy, Crime Commission and Customs.
It would also establish an Independent Parliamentary Advisor to provide written advice to Ministers and parliamentarians on standards, codes of conduct, entitlements, potential conflicts of interest, ethical issues and matters of propriety.
"The various arms of this integrity commissioner would not only play an important role in investigating allegations of corruption against parliamentarians, their staff and the public service, but would also provide much-needed written advice ahead of time to MPs not sure about legitimate use of entitlements and trying to do the right thing.
"The bill as drafted needs work to appropriately balance effectiveness with the proper protections from coercive powers and other matters of procedural fairness. That's why we are seeking to refer this to a Senate Inquiry so we can get expert advice on how best to find that balance.
"A number of States have had successful anti-corruption bodies for many years. We hope that, through a thorough Inquiry process, the Senate can deliver a strong and fair bill to establish a similar Commonwealth body would help rebuild public trust in our democratic institutions."
Greens Member for Melbourne and Deputy Leader, Adam Bandt MP, who will introduce the bill into the House of Representatives said:
"Unfortunately this is not the first time allegations have been made about Parliamentarians or public servants and unfortunately it won't be the last. That is why we need a National Integrity Commissioner."
"This could be the silver lining out of the on-going saga over Mr Thomson: a long lasting reform of our laws to deal with corruption and integrity."