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Integrity

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.

Australians deserve better from their politicians. That’s why I have worked tirelessly to introduce a federal anti-corruption commission, clean up political donations and bring transparency to politics.

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.

Overwhelmingly Australians do not trust politicians. They expect politicians to lie, to act corruptly, to spend taxpayer money for the good of their party, not the good of the nation. This is terrible for our economy, our communities, and our democracy.

Establishing a robust federal integrity commission

The Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill I have put to parliament has been described as ‘gold standard.’

The federal government is the only jurisdiction in Australia without an integrity commission. It is now more than 1200 days since the Prime Minister promised a federal integrity commission. The Prime Minister has since broken that promise, and refuses to make that promise again ahead of the election.

The weak model that the Prime Minister put up is full of design flaws.

It could not receive public referrals.

It would not hold public hearings.

And it has such a narrow definition of corruption that it wouldn’t capture anything that’s already captured under criminal law.

The model is so weak, that the Centre for Public Integrity has described it as ‘the weakest watchdog in the nation’ and the kind of integrity body one establishes when they do not want one at all.

The bill I introduced to the Parliament would be fully equipped with the powers and resources it needs to do its job. It would also have safeguards to protect the privacy and reputations of whistleblowers and others who come forward.

I wrote the bill in consultation with eminent retired judges, leading ethicists, legal academics, civil society leaders, and MPs from across the Parliament who wish to see strong action on integrity.

As an independent, I’m free to vote for the people of my electorate every time and call out the major parties when they get it wrong.

I’ll never stop fighting until Australia has a robust federal integrity commission in place to stamp out corruption and stop the waste of taxpayer dollars, especially in difficult economic times like the present.

Since being elected in 2019 I have:

  • Worked with constituents to develop the ‘Beechworth Principles’, a set of principles to guide a robust federal integrity commission
  • Delivered a petition to Parliament, calling for legislation that meets those principles
  • Worked with experts to develop a Bill for the Australian Federal Integrity Commission, with robust powers and appropriate safeguards
  • Introduced the Bill for the Australian Federal Integrity Commission into the House of Representatives in October 2020
  • Delivered a letter signed by 59 prominent judges, lawyers, experts and leaders calling for the government to establish a robust integrity commission to Prime Minister Scott Morrison
  • Worked with Senator Rex Patrick to introduce the Bill for the Australian Federal Integrity Commission into the Senate in October 2021
  • Re-introduced the Bill for an Australian Federal Integrity Commission into the House of Representatives in October 2021
  • Moved to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives to debate the AFIC Bill in November, with the motion seconded by government backbencher Bridget Archer. 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 Government backbencher John Alexander who spoke in the House of Representatives about the need for collaboration on integrity on the last sitting day of 2021.

In 2018 the Prime Minister promised that he would implement an integrity commission. Now, more than three years later we are facing an election with no integrity commission in place, not even a Bill introduced to Parliament by the Government.

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.

Cleaning up political donations

Under current laws, the major parties only have to disclose donations received above $14,500 to the Australian Electoral Commission each financial year. That means that millions and millions in donations from lobbyists, energy companies, gambling enterprises and so on go into their coffers without being disclosed for months and months on end.

Australians deserve to know who is holding the purse strings of the major parties before voting for them. Politicians are meant to represent the people, not their donors. That’s why I hold myself to a higher standard, and why I have introduced a Bill to reduce the threshold for donations to be declared to $1000, in real time.

You can see my donations disclosure policy here.