Australia Parliament introduces bill to form National Anti-Corruption Commission
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Australia Parliament introduces bill to form National Anti-Corruption Commission

The Australian Parliament, led by the Australian Labor Party, Wednesday introduced a bill to form a National Anti-Corruption Commission. In a speech, Labor MP and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus described the commission’s proposed broad powers. The commission will be able to investigate ministers, parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, statutory office holders and all government employees and contractors for criminal as well as non-criminal corruption offenses. The bill will include protections for whistleblowers and journalists who refer cases to the commission.

According to the proposal, the commission will default to holding hearings in private but may hold public hearings  “in exceptional circumstances and if satisfied it is in the public interest to do so.” While he hopes to garner public trust, Dreyfus told ABC 7.30 that privacy and national security concerns will necessitate private hearings. At the close of an investigation, the commission will produce reports of their findings. Reports may be made available to the public “where that is in the public interest.”

Dreyfus plans to introduce a resolution to form a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine the bill and garner multipartisan support. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised $262 million over the course of four years to fund the commission.

Labor took power in Australia after elections in May; while campaigning, Labor candidates made anti-corruption a centerpiece of their platform. On Wednesday, Dreyfus noted that Australia’s previous government vowed to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission but failed to introduce legislation to make the commission a reality.