Australia announces plan for new corruption watchdog

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says body will ‘restore trust and integrity to federal politics’

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says proposed corruption watchdog will 'restore trust and integrity to federal politics' [File: Christian Gilles/ Pool/Getty Images]

Australia has unveiled plans for an independent corruption watchdog after years of debate over the need for greater oversight of the country’s politics.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement on Tuesday the planned National Anti-Corruption Commission would have broad jurisdiction to investigate serious corruption in the public sector and would deliver on a pre-election pledge to “restore trust and integrity to federal politics”.

The proposed watchdog would operate independently from the government, be able to make findings of fact, including findings of corruption, and have the power to refer findings to federal police or the director of public prosecutions, according to the statement.

Legislation to establish the watchdog, which will be established with initial funding of 262 million Australian dollars ($169.8m) over four years, is expected to be introduced in parliament on Wednesday.

The centre-left Labor Party, which took power in May, had promised the establishment of an independent watchdog would be a priority if it got into government.

Scott Morrison, the previous prime minister, opposed the establishment of a federal watchdog modelled on bodies at the state level, describing New South Wales’ anti-corruption agency as a “kangaroo court” over its use of public hearings that harmed the reputations of people ultimately not found to be corrupt.

The proposed national commission will be able to hold public hearings “in exceptional circumstances” and where it is in the public interest, while its findings will be subject to judicial review, the government statement said.

Source: News Agencies