When I was elected in 2019 I heard from the people of Indi that they wanted greater integrity in politics. Voters demanded politicians act in the best interests of those they represent.
I fought tooth and nail to bring the standards of behaviour of my professional life as a nurse and midwife to the Federal Parliament.
After years of hard work pushing the major parties, we finally legislated a National Anti-Corruption Commission and it started its important work on 1 July 2023.
But my work to restore integrity in federal politics continues.
Securing a strong and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission
I promised the people of Indi I would fight for integrity and to improve the standards of behaviour in politics.
From 1 July to 17 December 2023, the Commission received 2,327 referrals.
I am proud that the National Anti-Corruption Commission is based on my Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill, described by experts as a gold-standard model. I worked with former judges and integrity experts to develop this model, building on the work of the former Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan.
As an Independent, I worked tirelessly with our community and other crossbench members to push the major parties to act on integrity.
Securing a national anti-corruption body is a huge achievement that belongs to everyone who demanded better from their elected representatives, everyone who voted for integrity at the last election, and everyone who told me to not give up the fight.
This reform is just the start of restoring public trust in federal politics.
What I've achieved
- Worked with the people of Indi to develop the ‘Beechworth Principles’, a set of principles to guide a robust federal integrity commission.
- Delivered a letter signed by 59 prominent judges, lawyers, experts and leaders calling for the government to establish a robust integrity commission to the then Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
- Worked with Senator Rex Patrick to introduce the Bill for the Australian Federal Integrity Commission (AFIC) into the Senate in October 2021.
- Re-introduced the Bill for an Australian Federal Integrity Commission into the House of Representatives.
- Moved to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives to debate the AFIC Bill in November of 2021, with the motion seconded by Liberal MP Bridget Archer, who crossed the floor. While the majority of MPs present in the House voted in favour of the motion, it was defeated on a technicality.
- Worked with MPs from all sides to find common ground and progress on integrity, including Coalition backbencher John Alexander who spoke in the House of Representatives about the need for collaboration on integrity on the last sitting day of 2021.
- I now sit as Deputy Chair on the National Anti-Corruption Commission Oversight Committee.
Reforming Government spending to end pork-barrelling
For too long the major parties have been misusing public money for their political benefit to secure votes, also referred to as pork-barrelling.
Pork-barrelling is the promise of money for projects in marginal electorates where the major parties are competing for votes without regard to evidence of the project’s merit, and the merit of other similar projects in other electorates.
Too often the projects don’t stack up resulting in delays and cost blowouts. At the same time, deserving community projects miss out on much-needed funding.
Sports rorts and the commuter car park scandal were both misuses of taxpayer money through federal grants programs.
And when an election is looming, funding promises escalate as the major parties compete to win votes.
Volunteer organisations, not-for-profits, community groups and small businesses rely on grants and government funding. They expect and deserve a fair and transparent process for awarding money.
Taxpayer dollars should be spent on community need, not major party greed.
What I'm doing
Strengthening whistleblower protection
For corruption to end, it must first be exposed.
As it stands, people who expose corrupt conduct can be prosecuted and jailed for their actions.
The Government has proposed some modest reforms, however they are nowhere near sufficient on their own.
We must continue to reform whistleblower protections and establish an independent Whistleblower Protection Commission, a body that can ensure international best practice protections for whistleblowers before and after they come forward.
Whistleblowers are vital to the effectiveness of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. We should protect, not prosecute, the brave people who uncover and take a stand against corruption.
What I'm doing
- Called on the Government to establish a Whistleblower Commission through a Senate Inquiry submission.
- Asked the Attorney General in Question Time why the Government has failed to intervene in the case of tax office whistleblower Richard Boyle and when they will strengthen whistleblower protections.
- Hosted the launch of the Human Rights Law Centre roadmap for whistleblower protections.