Saturday 20 January 2018
It was around a year ago that I was suggesting a number of things that Labor, in its lead up narrative to the next election could advocate for. The most popular thing, amongst many Labor supporters and others, was to advocate for a National ICAC or something similar. Almost on cue at the time he started to advocate for an inquiry into the viability of such a commission.
But there were no headlines that shouted ”Shorten advocates ANTI corruption body?”
Shorten, at the time, was unequivocally robust in his support, saying that any reform needed to go beyond an independent parliamentary expenses system.
He supported “an open and honest discussion” about whether Australia should have a federal Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC). He said:
“For me, reform doesn’t just stop at parliamentarians’ expenses,”
“It must include greater transparency, greater accountability on political donations – and no discussion about electoral reform and rebuilding the confidence of Australians in the political process can take place without having an open and honest discussion about a federal ICAC.”
“Before the last election there was a Senate committee set up to examine the existing capacities of the anti-corruption regime in Australian federal sphere of government.”
He referred to a Senate Committee that lapsed after the last election. That inquiry received written submissions and held two public inquiries in April 2016, but lapsed before a final report could be handed down. It received little media attention.
“We need to get that Senate committee back going again.”
“We need to demonstrate to Australians that we’re working for them, not just for ourselves.”
There is no reason why, with the support of Labor, the Greens the crossbench senators with the Nick Xenophon Party, and others that a Senate inquiry could not be set up NOW.
There is genuine overwhelming public support for some sort of inquiry. With trust in politicians at an all-time low it would be in their own best interests to go beyond a Senate inquiry, which often go nowhere, and support a fully “independent” one. We are sick of the scandals and constant allegations of political corruption.
Labor should get cracking, take the moral high ground, and announce that a National ICAC with bite will be part of its policy platform for the next election. Shorten has a chance to lead on policy as he did prior to the last election and would be foolish not to take up this opportunity.
“The simplest way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth.”
Shorten also said:
“I think it is no surprise that Australians get frustrated with the mainstream parties because they perceive that they are all the parliamentarians are behaving in the manner that we have seen the former health minister behave in,”
“I will work with Malcolm Turnbull to reform the expenses regime of parliamentarians.’’
“If he doesn’t have changes ready to go when parliament starts, we will be up for making those changes.”
A review of parliamentary was supposed to have been presented to the house prior to Christmas but as of now, we have had nothing
One would have thought that if the Opposition leader comes out, next week in support of a standing commission to look into corruption within our political system that the media would also come out in support.
After all it might supply them with some juicy gutter stories. So why wouldn’t all the journos be writing endless reams about Labor’s enlightened preparedness to tackle corruption within the political system? Why wouldn’t the news be full of stories and interviews with Shorten outlining Labor’s plans for reform?
My cynical mind tells me three things. Firstly that the media isn’t much interested because they themselves might be involved in some corruption.
Secondly, is just how fair dinkum is Shorten. Does he really want a department or commission overseeing politician’s ethics? And of course, thirdly, the Government wouldn’t be open to declaring where their donations come from.
It will take more than a few fine words spoken in the midst of an expenses or donations outrage, to achieve an equivalent to ICAC. It would take a determined effort by those in the Labor Party who are of good conscience who want to see the once noble profession of ”Member of Parliament” really mean something. That when the term ”Honourable member” is used that it would have some meaning or servitude attached to it.
My thought for the day
“Time never diminishes the crime.”