10 reasons why we need a Federal ICAC

1 // Public trust in government is at an all-time low, and falling.

We need to restore faith in our democracy, and a federal anti-corruption watchdog will make transparent exactly what is and isn’t happening at a federal political level.

2 // There’s no independent oversight of our federal parliamentarians, political staff and half the public sector.

A federal anti-corruption commission would fill this gap and increase public trust in government. It’s a win-win.

3 // Even if there isn’t any corruption happening at a federal level, most Australians think there is.

Australia Institute polling shows 85% of Australians think there is corruption in federal politics. Whether there is or isn’t, having a federal ICAC look at it will make everyone more confident in the state of our federal political system.

4 // Corruption doesn’t stop at state borders.

Why has so much corruption been uncovered in NSW? Is it that NSW politicians are innately more corrupt than their interstate and federal counterparts? Heck no.

Corruption doesn’t magically stop at state boarders. NSW simply has the strongest anti-corruption watchdog with the most powers. Corruption being exposed by other state based watchdogs just isn’t being investigated at a federal level.

5 // There’s been ongoing scandals involving federal politicians and senior public servants before.

Scandals like this one, and this one, annnd all of these. But we have to count on the media to uncover it, rather than an anti-corruption watchdog.

6 // Every state has an anti-corruption watchdog and our federal government is lagging behind.

Our federal government is in charge public of budgets and contracts much bigger than the ones our states are responsible for, yet when we compare integrity systems that put an end to corruption, our federal system falls short.

7 // The perception of corruption has a big cost to our economy and society.

In fact, our research shows that worsening perceptions of corruption in Australia have potentially reduced GDP by $72.3 billion, or 4%. Perceived corruption can impact business investment and the efficient allocation of resources.

8 // Not having a federal ICAC makes it look like we’ve got something to hide.

Australia has fallen six places on the international Corruption Perception Index since 2012 because of its inaction in dealing with federal corruption. If we’ve got nothing to hide, let’s prove it.

9 // We need to lead by example.

The government needs a quick reminder that Australia has agreed to the UN Convention Against Corruption. We’re also a leader in the Asia Pacific region and we have an international responsibility to fulfil our UN obligations — not to sit back while corruption goes unchecked.

10 // We already know how to design a federal ICAC to make it effective, now it’s time to get on with the job.

The Australia Institute has already done the research, we’ve even worked with the top judges and anti-corruption fighters in the country to create a federal ICAC blueprint. It’s just sitting there, casually, ready to be put to use…

From all of the team at The Australia Institute, thanks for reading.
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an independent think-tank based in Canberra > australia.org.au

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