Scott Morrison has made it patently clear that he thinks he is above the law and that public money is his to spend as he sees fit without having to answer to anyone. The judiciary disagrees.
“I have serious criticisms of the NSW ICAC model, I’ve never been a fan of how it’s conducted itself.
And I don’t care barristers and lawyers and others up there in Macquarie Street – I don’t mean in the Parliament, I mean sitting around in the barristers’ chambers – disagree with me.
They disagree with me all the time. I’ve never had much truck with them over the course of my entire political career.
It’s just not about having any integrity division, one that is driven by populism, one that’s just been driven by the latest thought bubble.
If we are going to so disempower our elected representatives to do things about what is needed in their communities, then what is the point?
We can’t just hand government over to faceless officials to make decisions that impact the lives of Australians from one end of the country to the other. I actually think there’s a great danger in that.
It wouldn’t be Australia anymore if that was the case, it would be some kind of public autocracy.”
“We are retired judges who believe that a National Integrity Commission is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our integrity system and restore trust in our political processes. Nothing less than halting the serious erosion of our shared democratic principles is at stake.
There must be conferred upon that commission a broad jurisdiction and strong investigative powers, including the power to hold public hearings, and respond to bona fide complaints from the public, so that serious or systemic corruption and misconduct can be adequately investigated and exposed.
Despite recent criticisms of anti-corruption commissions, the widely accepted case for a well-designed national integrity commission remains impregnable.
This is public money, held on trust for the nation as a whole, to be spent in the national interest and not for unethical political purposes or illegitimate private gain.
Where billions are to be spent and significant power is available to dispense it with little oversight, greedy people with convenient consciences and powerful connections will ensure that, with the manipulation of their influence, they will obtain illegal or unethical advantage to the detriment of the interests of the general public.
And they will do so by means which only a specialist anti-corruption body will have the skill and power to detect.
Institutions of democracy are being eroded. Important roles in government are being given to political friends. And there is no proper scrutiny of ministerial decision making. We must act now to rein in corruption in Australia.”
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