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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7227

Senator SMITH (Western AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (19:18): In the brief time available to me, I would like to comment on what I think is a very key, considered piece of work by the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission. The work of this report has been part of what is the constant review of our integrity framework, a process through which transparency and accountability is assured. Being in a constant state of review and vigilance is appropriate and necessary when considering anti-corruption and pro-integrity measures in our national framework. In this work, we must prioritise strengthening our accountability mechanisms. A key recommendation of our report is for the report to continue this process of review.

At the Commonwealth level we have a strong network of many specialised agencies that prevent, target and investigate corruption. The work of these agencies has earned high praise from many of the witnesses who appeared before our inquiry. An issue inherent to a multiagency approach is its complexity. It's vital that our national integrity framework is accessible and easily understood so that anyone who witnesses corrupt behaviour is encouraged to report it. There must be no disincentive to report malfeasance. This is rightly a priority for the government, and it's important that the framework evolves appropriately. There have been calls for a revolutionary approach rather than an evolutionary one—a new agency with investigative powers that duplicates the work of the existing system. On the evidence presented to this inquiry, such an approach is far from warranted. Many are quick to point to one instance or another of corruption or malpractice at a federal level and to draw the conclusion that a new body with the jurisdiction of an anti-corruption commission is necessary. But—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Gallacher ): Senator Smith, it being 7.20 pm, pursuant to order, I intend to call the Clerk. Do you seek leave to continue your remarks?

Senator SMITH: I do.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted.