Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

BILLS - Investigation and Prosecution Measures Bill 2017 - Second Reading

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (11:08): Labor supports the Investigation and Prosecution Measures Bill 2017. This bill amends the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and the Surveillance Devices Act 2004. Schedule 1 of the bill provides the correct references to the officers and titles following the 2016 restructuring of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption. Schedule 2 of the bill extends the powers, functions and duties of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to the laws of Norfolk Island. We welcome these uncontroversial reforms.

The New South Wales ICAC was established in 1988. Its principal function is to investigate alleged corruption at state and local government levels. It covers parliamentarians, local councillors, public servants, staff of universities and employees of state owned corporations. It has served the people of New South Wales well and, in so doing, has contributed to the maintenance of the trust of the people of New South Wales in public institutions in that state. However, in 2016 the New South Wales parliament passed legislation which made structural rearrangements to the New South Wales ICAC. The ICAC now has a new structure of a chief commissioner supported by two part-time commissioners, and additional assistant commissioners if required. Consequently, the existing references in Commonwealth statutes require amendment to ensure consistency of references to the current structure of the ICAC.

There are two issues of principle which arise as a result of these consequential amendments. The first is to note that the bill contributes to and enhances the continued cooperation between the Commonwealth and the state of New South Wales. This ensures consistency and accuracy of the law between the Commonwealth and New South Wales, a necessary exercise which everyone in this place would agree is a basic, if unexciting, requirement of governance. The second matter is one of reflection on the role of anticorruption measures in government. The New South Wales ICAC has been operating for three decades. Every state and territory either has an anticorruption body or is in the process of establishing one. The Commonwealth does not presently have a standalone anticorruption body.

Everyone in this place would agree that Australians have a right to feel confident that their government at every level is open, transparent and free from corruption, and that elected representatives, public servants and persons providing services to the public under government contracts serve the people with integrity. However, in recent years, following a number of scandals under the Abbott and Turnbull governments, there has been a diminution of public faith in our Commonwealth institutions. That is why we announced at the beginning of this year that a Shorten Labor government will establish a national integrity commission: a new federal anticorruption body tasked with investigating allegations of serious corruption, stamping it out wherever it is found and educating the community about public sector integrity. Labor's national integrity commission will help to ensure the highest level of public administration and help to restore the essential element of Australia's trust in politics and the public sector.

I think all Australians agree that it's time we hold our Commonwealth public officials to the standards of integrity and probity that the public rightly expect and create a single, broad-based body to ensure that this occurs. The Leader of the Opposition has already said that Labor is ready to work with the Liberals and any other interested parties to begin the task of establishing a national integrity commission straight away, and I reiterate that invitation now. I believe that good government means open and transparent government. Open government means that we govern with the trust of the people we serve. I commend the bill to the Senate.