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Federal ICAC: The Keys to the Electoral Mint?

By Tim Jones

Would the promise of a Federal ICAC give one of the majors the keys to the electoral mint? Tim Jones urges Turnbull or Shorten to take the microphone.

ICAC – The Keys to the Electoral Mint

In what is evolving into a series of ongoing scandals of rorting and corruption, federal MPs’ expenses are increasingly under the microscope – as they should be. However, scrutiny of use of taxpayer money should be constant. It should not just be a reaction to a particular scandal. Calls have been made to establish a federal version of the state anti-corruption body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

There is a serious political opportunity here. We are in an age where, according to one recent poll, 80% of Australians think politicians are corrupt. The federal leader who introduces the bill to establish a federal ICAC has the keys to the electoral mint. As the one (seemingly) honest politician, they could win elections for their party in a landslide for years to come. If the other party rejects the proposal, so much the better. You take that fact, and you break them with it. They support corruption, or they have something to hide and so on. The campaign literature writes itself.

Is Shorten Wasting an Opportunity?

The fact that the LNP appears to reject the idea outright gives Labor leader Bill Shorten this very opportunity. However, his support for the idea has been weak, much like his leadership.

This is a consequence of Kevin Rudd’s no knifing clause in the Labor constitution. This was designed to create stable leadership by making it impossible to knife the leader. However, this job security has bred complacency in Mr. Shorten and a marked lack of leadership.

Even accounting for the fact that he was on holiday during the Sussan Ley scandal (and why would you not come back early at the presentation of a half-volley on leg stump?), his silence on this scandal has been deafening. The reason behind this silence is not clear. A don’t ask, don’t tell policy among politicians? A fear at what would be found if his own or his colleagues’ expenses reports were scrutinised, or something else? Whatever the reason, Mr. Shorten’s silence on this issue is deafening.

The ICAC Board

Who would sit on such a board? Naturally, sitting politicians would be banned – foxes guarding the hen-house and all that. Sitting politicians should have no say in who will be on the board, for the same reason.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed that certain former politicians, including Dr. John Hewson, Dr. Craig Emerson and perhaps also Kristina Keneally, offer sober analysis and often criticise their own side of politics. These people are examples of being able to take the politician out of the party and the party out of the politician. Are they infallible? No, and no-one is saying that. But they are outside the current hyper-partisan political battlefield and so are more likely to offer something approaching impartiality.

Other possible appointees would include political science academics, CPAs and other financial experts. For the I in ICAC to mean anything, there would be no government oversight of the board a la former NSW Premier (he has since resigned). Mike Baird, caused trouble for an an ICAC investigator after they uncovered inconvenient truths about him.

There should be no communication between government and board, aside from subpoenas for records and testimony. Any sitting MP or Senator found with falsified records, or who lies to the board, will be terminated and prosecuted. Funds recovered and an immediate by-election called with no appeal. The parliamentarian should, of course, surrender any post-service pensions or entitlements upon conviction.

The time has come for corruption to end. The age of transparency must dawn. All parliamentary expenses, both during and post-service, are paid for with tax dollars. The people have a right to know how those monies are spent.

Mr. Turnbull or Mr. Shorten, take the microphone


Originally published on criticalanalystsite



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  1. John Lord

    LBW Tim, no replay required. Time for the new ball.

  2. bobrafto

    They support corruption, or they have something to hide

    yes, they’re hiding their corruption.

    I ‘feel’ that Labor along with the LNP is also a stooge for the corporations and corporations goes hand in hand with corruption so there you have it, a stink so big, if it was exposed would engulf both parties and our captains of industry.

  3. kate ahearne

    Thanks, Tim. There’s a lot to like about this piece. As you suggest, Labor’s fear of being caught out along with the myriad of LNPers certainly would account for Bill Shorten’s failure to step up to the microphone. Just one little query about the sorts of people you are suggesting for positions with ICAC. I notice that you don’t mention members of the legal fraternity, and if you do include former politicians, how can the baddies be kept out and only the squeaky clean be admitted?

  4. billshaw2013

    Before either of the major parties makes a move towards an ICAC they will be doing their homework. Once they are convinced the Commissions findings will be in their favour they will make a move. I’ve a feeling both the LNP and ALP are uncertain of the findings due to the entrenched ease of rorting the system and do not know if they will be winners or losers.
    All I know is that both parties would lose representatives if an ICAC was put in place now. And that is not a bad thing.

  5. Jexpat

    I’m quite confident that Australia enough academics from relevant fields to draw up an appropriate and ironclad system of independent review and inquiry. My bet is that there are also many who would gladly perform this task gratis, potentially supplemented by some form of crowdsourcing.

    All that’s required is the political will to put up the resulting legislation.

  6. Keitha Granville

    Yep, what he said.
    They are all doing it, that’s the problem. So maybe they are doing some housekeeping first ?
    Keep sending this stuff to Labor, let them know how we feel. The LNP sure aren’t listening.

  7. Steve Laing

    We know why the Coalition won’t, but why won’t Shorten. Something is lurking..

  8. 245179

    for sure, the rorts are across the board, they know that , we know that, too agree to any investigation, they know it would be suicide. So canberra forms a ring of wagons. It’s called self survival, embrace your enemies or they all go down. ( the “club thing” )

  9. lawrencesroberts

    Who would you trust to run it? Neutral Norwegians naturally.

  10. Elizabeth Pritchard

    You are right, it is time that things are brought out into the open. If any politicians disagree they would I expect have some explaining to do.
    What happens if no one steps forward, who will enact it. I should imagine that the GG should be able to do it but he has been silent. What about Andrew Wilkie’s appeal to the ombudsman? His suggestions of people to include in a board of inquiry sound promising.
    There has been silence all around. Me thinks it’s time to bring out the guillotine.
    The people are speaking loud and clear, they have had enough of the rot.

  11. helvityni

    lawrencesroberts, I’ll second that….

  12. 245179

    steve lang……labours the “honorable mr burke” considered it appropriate to send his children business class at your expense for their holidays. After this came to light, i don’t know what the outcome was, but at the time, he expected you to pay for it, and you did.
    Canberra is awash with greed.

  13. Roswell

    Elizabeth, we share your dislike of this mob and agree with your statement. Though mind you, we would hope that your suggestion of some guillotining would be for the purpose of chopping off their political careers and not their heads. We can never be too careful of what we say.

  14. crypt0

    Federal ICAC … the one issue which could propel BS into the lodge …
    Unless of course he feels he would lose the bulk of his parliamentary colleagues as collateral damage.
    Sad about that … guess we’re stuffed.

  15. 245179

    yes “we’re stuffed” and in the oven on slow cook. ( paul keating……”i’m going to do you slowly” )

  16. wayne johnson

    bill now is the time to get an icac the way the public is at the moment there is white hot hatred for the lnp the people are fed up with lies
    the secretive behaviour the deliberate interfering in investigation bodies sacking a a deputy ombudsman because she was investigating his government for corruption it beggars belief and you have the solicitor general and brandis and not to forget the war waged on the human rights commissioner gillian triggs this commission will investigate corruption it has to be state and federal

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Tim Jones.

    As is often said on this site and Twitter, it is essential for a Federal ICAC to be immediately instigated in order to clean out any current and living past rorters and to make all public officials and politicians properly accountable to our citizenry.

    Fraud applies to all citizens and there is no statute of limitations on Fraud, so time is not an impediment unless the offenders die first.

    The Greens have been calling for a Federal ICAC since at least the time of Christine Milne’s leadership. Where’s the leadership from Labor under Bill? A few wishy-washy half tries won’t cut it. (We know there’s no leadership from Malcolm Muck’s poorly led LNP.)

  18. jimhaz

    “Bill Shorten promises federal anti-corruption watchdog if he wins the next election”

    “On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce rejected the need for a corruption fighting body, saying the Senate already performed that function.“I don’t think there is a real sense in Australia of a concern with the political system,” Mr Joyce said.”

    “Three quarters of voters say there is a need for democratic renewal in the form of a federal anti-corruption commission and a tougher code of conduct for MPs, as part of wider reforms that would also see a rejuvenated public sector return to service delivery.”

    Below is an article about Paul Manafort’s history

    We so very dearly need an ICAC to watch over lobbyists interaction with government, as well as other matters, such as ALL Barnaby’s activities.

  19. Glenn Barry

    Shorten’s press club address this afternoon will be significant for either the presence or absence of mention of a federal ICAC.

    I believe the LNP are running scared of an ICAC, Labor’s motives or reticence are a little more difficult to discern though Malignant’s spruiking of the TURC morning was an obvious slur.

    Turnbull seems to already be in campaign mode, on resumption of parliament – dual citizenship taking out a few of his perhaps.

    @jimhaz – Ironic that is the AFR article that Turnbull mentions Packer, when it was Turnbull himself that plunged the knife into Packer on the Farifax bid.

  20. Glenn Barry

    The unauthorised biography of Turnbull by Paddy Manning is a good read concerning the machinations of Malignant.

    Despite the fact that Packer was misrepresenting his intentions, Turnbull was unanimously rejected for a Fairfax board position by all involved in the bid. I do think it epitomises his ruthless untrustworthy character in the way he betrayed Packer.

    It was a symphony of dishonesty.

    This was not the only time primary players in deals refused to work with Turnbull – he had acquired an infamous reputation for being extremely litigious in both threat and action.

  21. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I reiterated my exemplary words of a year ago….

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