Integrity Commission

Integrity Can’t Wait:

After decades as a nurse and midwife, one of the reasons I entered politics was to bring the standards I saw in my professional life, upheld by everyday people, into politics.

Australians have had enough of the lack of accountability in our politics. It’s time for this to end.

For the last two years I have been fighting to clean up our politics and create the culture of integrity that Australians deserve from their political representatives.

I’ve introduced a bill into Parliament that will create a strong and independent Federal Integrity Commission. This commission will have the power to root out corruption, expose lies and hold our politicians to account. This bill has wide support, but Scott Morrison has been dragging his feet.

All we have seen is a dud exposure draft which has been roundly rubbished by almost everyone. At the same time, I have a strong and robust bill that has the support of many signatories to this letter.

And I know it has support of MPs from every party in this House. From the majority of people in this Parliament.

On 22 June 2021, 59 leaders told the Government that time’s up in an open letter addressed directly to the Prime Minister. Integrity can’t wait. The calls can’t be ignored any longer.

In 2018 the Prime Minister promised that he would implement an integrity commission. The 8th of September 2021 will mark 1,000 days since he first made that promise. But we are still waiting on him to act.

Establishing an integrity commission is the one thing all sides of politics agreed to do in this 46th Parliament. With only two months until an election could be called, this is fast shaping up to be a broken election promise.

I don’t want to go to the next election without an integrity commission, and believe me neither do the Australian public. They don’t forget broken promises.

So I’m calling on the PM today. Do the right thing. Implement a robust Australian Federal Integrity Commission now, or Parliament will have no choice but to move to enact an integrity commission ourselves.

What I've put to parliament

On 26 October 2020 I introduced a bill to establish the Australian Federal Integrity Commission – or AFIC.

AFIC is the robust federal integrity commission over 80 per cent of Australians are calling for.

It is fully equipped with the powers it needs to do its job. And it has appropriate checks and safeguards to protect the integrity of its work.

AFIC is neither a star chamber nor a toothless tiger – it is a consensus way forward and has the support of judges, ethicists, legal academic, law enforcement organisations, civil society leaders, and MPs from across the parliament from all sides of politics.

Tabling the Australian Federal Integrity Bill 2020 with the clerk in the House of Representatives.

Where is the government on this?

In December 2018, the Attorney-General outlined a meagre 14-page plan for what the government call a Commonwealth Integrity Commission – or CIC.

The Attorney-General sent that plan out for public consultation and received over 3,000 submissions criticising it.

Australians then heard nothing for almost two years, while the Attorney-General sat on a draft bill the government refused to release.

I called on the government many times to explain that delay and was repeatedly shut down.

Tired of waiting, I started working with constituents, esteemed judges, ethicists, legal academics, and MPs across the parliament – including government backbenchers – to write a bill we can all get behind and that meets the Beechworth Principles.

Just seven days after I tabled the AFIC bill in parliament, the Attorney-General finally published his draft bill for consultation.

The CIC bill is the same weak model the government served up two years ago and has attracted broad condemnation again.

See how AFIC compares with the government model

AFIC has been described as best practice by leading experts and academic.

In comparison, the government’s CIC has been described as the federal integrity commission one designs when one does not want an integrity commission.

My integrity media conference drew a coalition of crossbenchers, former members of the judiciary and academics to oppose the government’s proposed anti-corruption bill and support AFIC. Picture: The Australia Institute

How can I help?

Thousands of Australians have already made contributions to the AFIC campaign –

Back in February, hundreds of constituents from Indi packed the historic courthouse in Beechworth to launch a set of five principles by which to measure a robust integrity commission.

In May, I delivered a petition to parliament from Indi calling for legislation that meets the Beechworth Principles.

And in September and October, hundreds more wrote to MPs across the country calling on them to bring on debate of the AFIC bill in parliament.

These actions from Indi shifted the national dial and forced the government to pay attention.

But we can’t stop now.

The Attorney-General refuses to let MPs debate the AFIC bill in parliament.

 It’s time to keep applying pressure on the government improve their weak CIC model. You can:

  • Write a submission to the CIC consultation and urge the government to support AFIC.
  • Write a letter to a government MP urging them to support AFIC. They’re listed here, here and here.
  • Get involved – if you want to join a SLACK channel of enthusiastic campaign volunteers, write to me at helen.haines.mp@aph.gov.au

Support for the AFIC Bill

We’ve got judges, ethicists, and MPs from across politics behind this

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Find out more about AFIC