Christian Porter has given a strong indication the Coalition will not set up a federal independent commission against corruption, telling Labor there is no “persuasive evidence” that current methods of tackling corruption are insufficient.
The attorney general has written to his Labor counterpart, Mark Dreyfus, arguing that the establishment of a national integrity commission “may not be the most effective or efficient option”, suggesting any possible reforms will fall well short of an anti-corruption body with broad-ranging powers.
In January Labor promised to establish a national integrity commission, putting pressure on Malcolm Turnbull, who did not rule out following the opposition’s lead but asked Porter to conduct consultations.
“The Turnbull government does not consider that there exists any persuasive evidence indicating an insufficiency in the current multi-faceted approach to combating corruption,” the attorney general said.
Porter said that “multiple agencies at the federal level have specialised roles” in combatting corruption and misconduct, adding that the independent judiciary, democratic system, free media and civil society “also protect against corruption by enabling scrutiny of the public and private sectors”.
Anti-corruption commissions are different to crime-fighting bodies because they function like standing royal commissions, with powers to compel testimony, and have an investigative role before charges have been laid by prosecutors.
Anti-corruption bodies at the state level have exposed allegations of serious corrupt conduct including the alleged creation of slush funds in the Victorian education department and in New South Wales revealed the practice of the Liberal party “washing” unlawful donations from developers.
Why are they so scared of a Federal ICAC?
Is it because of:
– Cash’s union office raid involvement
– $444m grant to Reef Foundation
– Joyce/Campion job and travel
– Dutton’s au pair
– Bishop partner travel
– Manus deaths
– Joyce water rorts
– Foxtel donation $30m
– Direct Action
– JBIsh Glorious Foundation
– Cash Card – Imdue
– Border Farce
But WAIT< WAIT …
Were their watches synchronised? Just as we found out via the attorney-general, Christian Porter, that the Turnbull government sees no need for a national independent commission against corruption, government backbencher Andrew Hastie, chair of the powerful intelligence committee, with almost military precision, reveals exactly why we do.
A key person in the dark was Prime Minister Trumble, who today confessed he had no notice that Hastie was about to lob his grenade, although in a string of questions this afternoon Labor suggested that the media was told.
It hardly makes sense. It’s almost as though … as though … the government is being undermined from within.
Yesterday The Guardian reported that the attorney-general had written to his Opposition counterpart, Mark Dreyfus, on May 10 to indicate that the Coalition had not ruled out a national integrity commission, but saw no “persuasive evidence indicating an insufficiency in the current multi-faceted approach to combating corruption”.
At a pinch, I’d say nobody – not one soul – beyond the political and media class would agree with the attorney-general on that point.
Twitter this morning erupted with dodgy examples from VET FEE HELP to Securency.
Like a suspiciously sudden $444 million grant without tender, or even a plan, to an unprepared Great Barrier Reef Foundation, whose members are heavy political donors or have links to the fossil fuels industry, and who described it as “like winning lotto”.
And today The Australian reports [$] that Trumble, Shorten, and all state and territory leaders have endorsed a gala dinner to be held in Sydney’s Town Hall on Sunday to commemorate 200 years of Chinese immigration to Australia. The event is organised by developer Yuhu Group’s Huang Xiangmo, the former political donor whose dealings with former Labor senator Sam Dastyari led to his resignation from parliament.
Why the government might believe it is clever politics in 2018 to defy the overwhelming support for a federal ICAC is a mystery, but, as many have pointed out today, this is the same Coalition who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to appoint a royal commission into the banks, and opposed a royal commission into child sexual abuse.
If the Trumble government wants to argue against a federal ICAC, however, the last thing it needed was last night’s dramatic intervention by former SAS commander Andrew Hastie.
Hastie used sensitive information from an FBI investigation, which he gained as chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, to identify under parliamentary privilege, the billionaire developer Chau Chak Wing in relation to funding the bribery of a senior United Nations official.
Chau Chak Wing is a major donor to both sides of politics.
The timing could hardly be worse. Not only do Hastie’s allegations undermine the arguments against a federal ICAC, and jeopardise the China–Australia relationship, they are impossible to respond to, as a case following a joint Fairfax and Four Corners investigation last year, which also identified Wing, is now before the courts.
it’s almost as though a senior cabinet minister with an abiding interest in national security – let’s call him Peter Dutton – wants Trumble’s job’.