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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11368

National Integrity Commission

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:17): My question is to the Prime Minister. Given that the government has now voted to support the establishment of a national integrity commission, what is the Prime Minister's timetable to establish a national integrity commission? Will he work with all sides across the parliament to make the National Integrity Commission a reality as soon as possible?

Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General) (14:18): Australia has ranked very low—Australia has ranked consistently low as a corruption jurisdiction. In fact, we maintain precisely the same arrangements as most countries that rank low as a corruption jurisdiction. We have what is known as a multiagency approach, with different specialised agencies responding to integrity and conduct issues in different parts of the public sector. That multiagency approach has proven, here and overseas, to be very successful. Agencies such as ACLEI, the public sector commissioner, the Inspector-General of Taxation, the AFP, ACIC, the Auditor-General and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority—which, by the way, we created—work together very well.

There is clearly, which we have acknowledged today and continue to acknowledge, a very live question as to how to improve on that system and whether scrapping it for a completely singular model of an integrity commissioner is the best way to go, or whether there should be consolidation and the creation of a new umbrella model. We are considering that. We are doing it in a dutiful and cautious way. But I might just note: for all of the grandstanding from the members opposite, would it surprise members on this side of the House that members opposite have not, themselves, always supported an integrity commissioner?

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

Mr PORTER: In fact, the member for Isaacs, I hear, interjects because he knows what's coming, I suspect. The member for Isaacs was asked the question of whether he agreed with a model of a national integrity commissioner, and he said, 'I'm not convinced there is a need for yet another integrity officer.' Now, the context of that is very, very interesting, because that question and answer was put in the same press conference where the member for Isaacs was under pressure for wrongly claiming travel entitlement for a skiing trip. So the questions went like this: first, we had questions about the travel claims issue. The member said, 'I should not have claimed for two nights because I went to Perisher to ski.' Then we had the next question: do you agree with a national integrity commissioner? And the answer was, 'I'm not convinced there is a need for yet another integrity officer.' The member for Isaacs and the Leader of the Opposition are questioning our commitment to improved arrangements. The member for Isaacs is literally a fairweather friend of integrity commissioners—when the snow is falling, he's against them; when the sun is shining, he is for them. In fact, I am remembered of Banjo Paterson:

Let us saddle up and go—

Back to support the commissioner—

At the melting of the snow.