September 28, 2022
Helen Haines welcomes introduction of National Anti Corruption Commission legislation
Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has welcomed the introduction of the legislation for the National Anti Corruption Commission by the Government into the House of Representatives today.
Dr Haines has campaigned for a strong, independent integrity watchdog since being elected in 2019, introducing a bill to create the Australian Federal Integrity Commission in 2020 and again in 2021. Dr Haines continued the work of the former Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan, who also introduced a Bill for a federal integrity commission in 2018.
“This is a momentous day and it has been a long time coming. It is the first time a Government has introduced a bill for an integrity watchdog to Parliament. Until now, all Bills had come from the crossbench or the Greens.
“I am encouraged by what I have seen from the Government so far. This Bill includes many of the same features as my Bill for the Australian Federal Integrity Commission, including a broad definition of corruption, the ability to take referrals from the public, one set of rules for all, retrospectivity and a statutory oversight committee.
“I am pleased to see a commitment to pro-integrity measures including prevention and education functions. This is an important pillar of stamping out corruption across Government.
Elements of the bill, including coverage of third parties, prevention and education measures and protection of whistleblowers, have been included since the government began consultations with the crossbench over the development of the bill.
“It is clear to see in the bill that has been introduced that the government has listened to the concerns that I and other crossbenchers raised with the Attorney General. Genuine and constructive consultation on this important piece of legislation has lead to crucial changes.”
Dr Haines signalled she still holds concerns about some aspects of the Bill.
“Under the Government’s Bill, public hearings will only be held in exceptional circumstances and when in the public interest to do so. It is not clear why the ‘exceptional circumstances’ test has been included and I am concerned it creates an unnecessary extra hurdle when private hearings are already the default.
“I will be looking closely at the Bill over the coming weeks to ensure each clause is appropriate and serves a strong, independent watchdog with the appropriate safeguards.”
Dr Haines has nominated to be a member of the joint select committee that will examine the Bill before it goes to a vote.
“Throughout this process I have committed to work in good faith with the Government to examine the Bill and improve it where necessary and I intend to continue that through the committee process,” Dr Haines said.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity and I will be working hard to make sure we get it right.”