Australia’s new anti-corruption watchdog set to be unleashed in 2023 as historic National Anti-Corruption Commission laws pass
Governance Institute of Australia has welcomed the passing of the Federal Government’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) legislation through the House of Representatives this afternoon, the final step in ensuring that Australia will soon have a powerful new anti-corruption watchdog.
Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said the passing of the new laws is a major step forward for transparency, integrity and trust in Australia.
“This is a red-letter day,” Ms Motto said.
“We now enter a new era of trust and integrity in our public institutions. No longer can public officials shirk accountability and as I said after the Bill’s introduction, politicians have been put on notice”.
While having significant powers, Ms Motto expressed disappointment at the retention of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause for public hearings.
“Governance Institute, along with other key stakeholders, advocated strongly for the removal of the restraints on the Commission’s ability to hold public hearings, concerned this clause will cause delays and a curtailment of the public’s knowledge of investigations. Public hearings expose corruption and are a crucial tool in investigations.
“Unfortunately, this change has not been made.”
However, Ms Motto said the passing of the legislation is still a major cause for celebration.
“After more than five years of serious public debate and many proposals, Australia will finally have a strong, independent integrity commission. And this is to be celebrated.”
The new National Anti-Corruption Commission, set to be launched mid next year, will have significant powers to:
- investigate serious or systemic corrupt conduct across the Commonwealth public sector by all politicians, officials, and contractors, ensuring that any person who seeks to adversely influence a public official to do wrong will be covered
- investigate retrospective allegations of serious or systemic corrupt conduct
- hold public hearings only in exceptional circumstances when deemed in the public interest
- refer findings that could constitute criminal conduct to the Australian Federal Police or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
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