The Accountability Round Table through Fiona McLeod SC and Professor Colleen Lewis, has written to the Prime Minister on 1st October, putting the case for a National Integrity Commission. That letter, and its underwhelming departmental reply are reproduced below.

1 October 2018
The Honourable Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister of Australia
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister,

The case for a National Integrity Commission

We, the Directors of the Accountability Round Table, write to urge your government to establish a well-resourced, “one stop”, national integrity commission with the appropriate powers needed to be effective.

We do so for the following reasons.

The establishment of such a body would provide unequivocal evidence of the government’s commitment to accountability and to protecting the integrity of all elements of the Australian Public Sector.

Creating such a body is essential to the long journey needed to begin restoring trust between members of parliament (the people’s representatives) and the Australian electorate.

The Australian community has indicated its strong support for the establishment of a national integrity commission. The majority of the people’s representatives (the government) should, indeed must, respond positively to the wishes of those they are elected to serve.

A national integrity commission is in the public interest, which in a democratic society such as Australia, must always take precedence over personal and political party interests and the interest of political advisors and senior public servants that often advise government on such matters.

The establishment of such a body is in accordance with the advice of all experts in the anti-corruption, integrity field.

Even a cursory examination of the existing approach to detecting and preventing corruption and promoting integrity led decisions in the Australian Public Sector indicates that the current piecemeal approach to such matters is inadequate, an assessment that is supported by many experts in the field.

As a signatory to the International Open Government Partnership the Australian Government has an obligation to implement the most effective anti-corruption commission possible. Currently Australia is not honouring its obligations to the IOGP to the extent that it should.

Several of the Directors of the Accountability Round Table have expertise in the anti-corruption field and are very willing to participate in any discussions that address the points raised above. We offer our ongoing assistance to the Attorney General, the Hon Christian Porter MP and senior officials of the Attorney Generals Department.

We look forward to receiving your response to the issues raised in this letter. In the interest of openness and fairness, we advise that we will be posting it on the Accountability Round Table website and will do the same with your reply.

Yours faithfully,

Fiona McLeod SC

Chair, Accountability Roundtable

Cc: The Hon Christian Porter MP

Colleen Lewis

Director, Accountability Roundtable

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Ms Fiona McLeod SC
Chair Accountability Round Table
Owen Dixon Chambers West 1106
525 Lonsdale St

Dear Ms McLeod

Thank you for your correspondence dated 1 October 2018 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, regarding the establishment of a national integrity commission. I have been asked to reply on the Prime Minister’s behalf.

As the matter you raise falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Attorney-General, the Hon Christian Porter MP,  your correspondence has been referred to that portfolio for any reply.

Yours sincerely,

Maia Ablett
Acting Assistant Secretary
Legal Policy Branch
1 November 2018

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