17 February 2022

Deputy Speaker,


When it comes to the trust that Australians put in their Government and democratic processes, what we've seen after almost a decade of those opposite with the Coalition holding the reins has been a really swift decline.


We've spent almost 10 years watching those opposite avoid transparency measures at all costs.


They've flouted the norms and conventions around ministerial responsibilities over and over again, and as a result, trust in the parliament and the public service has also nosedived.


We've had to watch rort after rort and scandal after scandal unfold for years amongst those who hold the highest office in this nation.


Instead of holding that responsibility in the utmost regard, they've been trashing it.


It's a disgrace.


We need a proper national integrity commission.


Now, it's a shame that the Minister has left after what was a pretty lacklustre defence of their sham of a model, but there you go.


What we saw just last week was that those opposite, the Federal Government of Australia, are so afraid of being held to account that they rolled their own Prime Minister in Cabinet over the issue of an anti-corruption commission.


Because they were worried that a proper anti-corruption commission would investigate what they've been up to: all their rorts and improper behaviour, unethical behaviour.


As we know, they've been very, very busy rorting on an industrial scale, and Australians have had enough. As I've said before, in this place, Mr Deputy Speaker, we need to rebuild the ethical infrastructure of our nation.


And Federal Labor will do that if we get the confidence of the Australian people at the next election.


Because we need a powerful, independent, transparent anti-corruption commission, with retrospective powers.


Every single non-Coalition member in this place is united in supporting it.


We cannot settle for anything less, least of all the embarrassingly weak and secretive model the Government is proposing, which experts such as the Centre for Public Integrity have comprehensively slammed as being, and I quote, “a sham designed to cover up corruption”.


Deputy Speaker, Australians have a right to know how their hard-earned taxes are being spent, and we all know that this is yet another broken promise from the government for broken promises.


We all have a role to play in restoring public confidence in our democracy.


Only Federal Labor will give this assurance to Australians: that not only are their taxpayer dollars being used appropriately, but also that decisions are being made in the national interest rather than narrow, sectional, political interests, as they are with those opposite.


Mr Speaker, it's good that the Member for Wentworth is in the chamber because I remember watching an episode of Q&A, it must have been some 18 months ago.


The Federal Government had put him out there to try and defend the pathetic stance of the Federal Government when it comes to a national integrity commission.


And the blame was put on COVID: “But of course, we can't do anything because of COVID, the public service staff couldn't possibly.”


But luckily, Ken Henry and other people were on that panel, as was Tanya Plibersek, the Member for Sydney, who stuck holes in that argument pretty quickly.


Now this was on the 26th of October, 2020, but as the Member for Sydney said, the draft legislation was ready they December before that, in 2019.


Those opposite have deliberately wasted time, because they simply do not want a proper national integrity commission.


But we need one.