Wanted: A federal ICAC, with teeth

Draft ICAC policy like a 'broken mouth ewe with no bite'

OPINION
Opinion
If anyone was listening to the radio during harvest, they would likely have heard talk about establishing a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.

If anyone was listening to the radio during harvest, they would likely have heard talk about establishing a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Aa

Given the NSW ICAC has proven its worth on many occasions, it is somewhat baffling that no such body exists at a federal level.

Aa

If anyone was listening to the radio during harvest, they would likely have heard talk about establishing an integrity commission, or a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The topic has featured prominently, with the Morrison Government having released a draft bill for discussion.

However, disappointingly, the draft bill is a bit like a gummy, old, broken mouth ewe with no bite.

People give politicians permission to run Government on their behalf, with the expectation they will do so in an honest, ethical and efficient manner.

In that context, a federal ICAC shouldn't be needed, but in reality, at a state level where an ICAC already exists, we have all been shocked by the many scandals it has exposed.

Given the NSW ICAC has proven its worth on many occasions, it is somewhat baffling that no such body exists at a federal level.

The federal politicians would have you believe that corruption does not happen at a national level, which is a bit of a joke.

If it is rampant in all the states, it is a fair bet the same occurs in Canberra.

In fact, investigative journalist Michael West has identified 92 suspect actions that have occurred in recent times that need investigation.

There are not many politicians who are blatantly crooks, but they all have to get involved in raising funds to run political campaigns, which nowadays run into millions of dollars.

Trying to raise that large amount of money is very difficult.

It is much easier to get corporations to donate than individuals.

The problem is the corporations don't donate unless there is a payback, either directly or indirectly, and that is where corruption can occur.

Corruption happens covertly so it needs a special body with special coercive powers, similar to a Royal Commission, to tap telephones and demand documents and conduct public enquires.

The recent NSW ICAC investigation of former Wagga Wagga state member Daryl McGuire aptly demonstrated at the public hearing the importance of those powers, with regular comments from Mr McGuire of 'I don't remember', and the special council gently jogging his memory with relevant telephone tapes or documents.

We have witnessed water purchases that looked crook, as well as the awarding of public dollars to particular marginal seats to ensure parties are re-elected.

This bastardises democracy, as taxpayer dollars are not the plaything of one particular political party.

The public grant politicians the power to run government for us and so we must have confidence in the integrity of our democracy.

A federal ICAC is a way in which we can bring transparency.

A fair dinkum, independent body, with telephone tapping, document seizing ability and public hearings is what's needed to expose the wrong doings.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by