Different Breeds of Watchdog
A National Integrity Commission is needed to investigate and expose corruption and misconduct in our federal government and public sector. Currently there are significant gaps in the jurisdiction and investigative powers of the federal agencies responsible for scrutinising the public sector and government. No federal agency has the power to investigate corrupt conduct as state-based commissions do, which includes any behaviour that affects the honest and impartial exercise of public office. No agency can investigate misconduct of MPs, ministers or the judiciary. The agencies that do have strong investigative powers, such as the Australian Federal Police, can only use them when investigating criminal charges. No agency holds regular public hearings, meaning that corruption and misconduct is not properly exposed to the public.1
The design of a National Integrity Commission is critical to ensure its success in investigating and exposing corruption. The Australia Institute’s National Integrity Committee of former judges and corruption fighters has considered the lessons from our state corruption commissions and published six design principles as a benchmark for the establishment of a National Integrity Commission.