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Put niceties aside, Albo

I was immediately taken aback when I read that the Opposition was negotiating “in good faith” with the Government for their support in introducing the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). Good faith sounds more like bargaining for an exemption from the obvious.

At first, I thought I was mistaken.

Negotiating in good faith with an Opposition so full of corruption that it was at the top of the list for reasons to vote against it.

Just what are they negotiating; a tit-for-tat clause by clause? We won’t remind the Commission of this if you don’t insert that. Or if you do, then remember when.

If that’s what it means, we will likely end up with a “watered-down” version of what was promised.

The Prime Minister must remember that any variation from what was promised to what is legislated will be taken as a broken promise and will carry over into the next election.

An excuse like losing time with the Queen’s death is no excuse. Let me remind Albo that he pledged to introduce a federal integrity body this year.

Before and during the election, both Albanese and the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, committed to the integrity body.

 

 

They had various ideas and said they were in discussion with all interested parties. Still, now we find them negotiating with the very party that originated the corruption alleged to have taken place.

One sticking point with the independents is that the new body can investigate third parties.

Independent David Pocock has noted that:

“We know that a lot of corruption starts with people potentially getting in touch with politicians, whether they’re business people, unions, developers … This body needs to be able to actually investigate them and bring them before the integrity commission.”

The sticking point seems to be just how much power the Commission should have. Well, given the record of the Coalition over the past decade, I would suggest a lot, but at the same time, I concede there may be a danger if its power is too far-reaching. But it must have teeth.

Other points of contention are protection for whistle-blowers and the size of the Commission’s budget, but they can be overcome.

Labor pledged an Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) that would:

“… serve the public by uncovering corruption and ensuring that members of a government, including politicians, are held to account if they engage in corrupt conduct.”

In both Labor’s election policy and media releases, a NACC was promised by the end of 2022. Anything less will be considered a backflip. We believed in good faith.

The NACC would:

  • Have broad jurisdiction to investigate Commonwealth ministers, public servants, statutory office holders, government agencies, parliamentarians, and personal staff of politicians;
  • Carry out its functions independently of Government, with discretion to commence inquiries into serious and systemic corruption on its own initiative or in response to referrals, including from whistle-blowers and complaints from the public. To ensure the Commission’s independence, the Commissioner and any Deputy Commissioner would serve for a single fixed term and have security of tenure comparable to that of a federal judge;
  • Be overseen by a statutory bipartisan Joint Standing Committee of the Parliament, empowered to require the Commission to provide information about its work. To ensure bipartisan support for the Commission’s work, that Committee would be responsible for confirming the Commissioners nominated by the Government;
  • Have the power to investigate allegations of serious and systemic corruption that occurred before or after its establishment;
  • Have the power to hold public hearings where the Commission determines it is in the public interest to do so;
  • Be empowered to make findings of fact, including a finding of corrupt conduct, but not to make determinations of criminal liability. Findings that could constitute criminal conduct would be referred to the Australian Federal Police or the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions for further consideration; and
  • Operate with procedural fairness, and its findings would be subject to judicial review.

It’s all nakedly laid out on the Labor Party website, so you cannot misunderstand its legislation or intent.

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II has set back this session of Parliament, and the resumption of Parliament this week will serve as a reminder of how things can quickly change in politics, but there doesn’t appear to be a question the Opposition can ask of the Government that in some way won’t rebound on them most negatively.

 

 

Official grieving passes quickly, but politicians cannot avoid it. Until it occurred, Albanese was enjoying popularity only surpassed by Bob Hawke, but it may well be stalled if he cannot get his legislation through the Parliament.

Including the National Anti-Corruption Commission and other important legislation, Albanese will be expected to offload it all before Christmas to make way for a clear run into the New Year.

In politics, a clear run into a new year is essential, especially for a reformist party intent on making changes to improve the common good.

Jim Chalmers will present a new budget in October, and it will surely get a good going over. I, for one, expect something exceptional, given the time spent on it. What might happen to the billions in subsidies given to mining?

In the face of a crisis for democratic governments around the globe, the Albanese government is preparing to table legislation to create a federal integrity commission.

If there is a need for a NACC, then it needs to be demonstrated why this is so. If the Opposition believes it needs to be boiled down so much as to be ineffective, then Dutton needs to spell out why.

If the object of the exercise is to restore trust in the political system, then let me remind you that:

“Findings in this week’s Guardian Essential report show about half of the respondents see Scott Morrison as a diminished figure who should resign from parliament.”

Wouldn’t that be a fitting end?

My thought for the day

The danger in looking back to often is that we lose the will to go forward.”

 

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13 comments

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  1. Hotspringer

    It’s already been announced most of the hearings will be in secret, a feature the Coalition will no doubt welcome. Here goes any transparency, and my faith in Labor doing the right thing.

  2. leefe

    “Findings in this week’s Guardian Essential report show about half of the respondents see Scott Morrison as a diminished figure who should resign from parliament.”

    Wouldn’t that be a fitting end?

    A more fitting end would be to see him and most of his fellow party members and apparatchiks behind bars.

  3. L. S. Roberts

    Old Lefties are always disappointed with power.
    The Canberra bubble will not be pricked. Depending on how quickly the backbenchers of the government can find a ‘get rich quick scheme’ will determine how thoroughly ICAC will work.

    I will give P. M. Albanese time but his trip to Japan with the three stooges does not look promising.

    Shades of Liberal Lite.

  4. Henry Rodrigues

    Agree with you Leefe 1000% !!!! No hasty deals with these creeps just to get the legislation through. There’s enough support and determination from the cross bench for the passing of strict anti corruption laws. I am and have always been a fierce supporter of Labor, but here is where I draw the line. No easy escape clause whatsoever.

  5. Terence Mills

    Hotspringer

    What the government have said on public hearings is that :

    The commission will be able to hold public hearings in exceptional circumstances and if satisfied it is in the public interest to do so. The default position is that hearings will be held in private.

    The legislation provides guidance to the commission on factors that may be relevant to determining the public interest in holding a public hearing.

    These factors include any unfair prejudice to a person’s reputation, privacy, safety or well being if the hearing were to be held in public, and this includes the benefit of making the public aware of corruption.

    The ultimate decision on a public hearing will be made by the Commissioner not by a politician : this seems like a reasonable position to me.

  6. Hotspringer

    Terence

    Morals of our masters are not UV stabilised and must be kept in the dark lest the whole two party dicktatorship (stat) perish and crumble to nothing.

  7. Ross

    Off course the NACC will be a watered down version of what we want.
    What we want is a total mongrel of an integrity commission. One with huge poison dripping fangs that will cause politicians, their mates, their donors, their cronies and those that own them to cringe in abject fear and will clean out any of the corrupt arse wipes that infest federal parliament.
    That it might cause reputational damage if hearings are held in public is risible.
    The reputation of today’s politicians is so low you would need a compass, a map and a good dog to find it.
    A Labor NACC won’t be totally ineffective but it won’t be all what we want either.

  8. New England Cocky

    @ Ross: I am with you. Do the corruption crime, do the jail time and reputational damage. Protect the whistle blowers in government & corporations. Indeed, there may be a case to reward whistle blowers with a percentage of the corruption exposed.

  9. Pete Petrass

    My biggest issue is that hearing are likely going to be done in secret, unless there are exceptional circumstances. IMO any politician being corrupt IS exceptional circumstances and we as Australians, taxpayers and constituents NEED TO KNOW. We need to know just what has gone on over the past 9 years of coalition government and we deserve to know the details.
    The coalition jibbered on big time, particularly about Gladys having to resign because of the “show trials” of the NSW ICAC. Well that is just utter crap. Gladys had the option to step aside until a result came of the hearings, on full pay. However, she chose to resign, probably in order to keep all of her entitlements………….why else would anyone just up and resign???

  10. Canguro

    re. ‘Gladys … chose to resign….why’

    Maybe ol’ Dazza was putting the hard word on her, you know, nudge nudge wink wink wanna go wanna go…

    Nah, too ludicrous.

    Though looking at the 18th C British painter William Hogarth’s work, at the bottom of the page he has a ‘Before’ and an ‘After’ set of paintings; pretty accurate portrayals. Human nature never varies.

  11. wam

    People who rely on the image of working hard are terrified to have that claim tested. Over the last 35 years, I have personal knowledge of many local, some territory and a few federal politicians. Such observations, albeit casual, have strengthened my belief that, until the politicians release their diary, ego will drive unrecognised conflicts of interest and eventually the many levels of ‘non-illegal’ corruption.
    A commission will not satisfy anyone. The independents, dutton and the extremist parties will have a voice.
    For albo, it must be carefully managed else it be both an image and a vote loser.
    ps
    loved it, canguro,
    pants on and pants back on.

  12. Harry Lime

    “Dirty Deals done Dutton Cheap”

  13. Terence Mills

    Thing to remember about the National Anti-Corruption Commission is that it is not intended to be a court of law.

    if systemic corruption is uncovered which is also unlawful then the matter is referred to the AFP for criminal prosecution ; as with former NSW ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian McDonald.

    This is the draft legislation :

    https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/bills/r6917_first-reps/toc_pdf/22094b01.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

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