Media release embargo 6am 18th May 2022

31 former judges have signed an open letter calling on political leaders to establish a National Integrity Commission. Signatories include former judge of the High Court Mary Gaudron QC, former Chief Justice of Queensland Catherine Holmes AC QC, and former Federal Court judge Michael Barker QC.

The letter states:

“Despite recent criticisms of anti-corruption commissions, the widely accepted case for a well-designed national integrity commission remains impregnable. The federal government enters into contracts and makes grants worth hundreds of billions each year.  This is public money, held on trust for the nation as a whole, to be spent in the national interest and not for unethical political purposes or illegitimate private gain…”

“We are retired judges who believe that a National Integrity Commission is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our integrity system and restore trust in our political processes. Nothing less than halting the serious erosion of our shared democratic principles is at stake.”

The letter will be sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, Greens Leader Adam Bandt, and minor party leaders on Wednesday morning.

Former Federal Court judge Michael Barker QC said:

“A National Integrity Commission with a broad jurisdiction, strong powers, and public hearings is needed to restore trust in our democratic system. Without it, corruption will flourish. We are calling on all political leaders to act with urgency to reinstate integrity and accountability to our political system.”

Former Victorian Court of Appeal judge David Harper AM QC said:

“Unless checked, corruption corrodes the most precious values of a civilised society. It is the antithesis of the rule of law, which all judicial officers are sworn to uphold. For those retired judges who have added our names to this open letter, the protection of the rule of law is so important that a public expression of our support for a national integrity commission dedicated to that end is eminently justified.”

Former Victorian Court of Appeal judge Stephen Charles AO QC said:

“Billions of dollars of public money are currently being wasted through pork barrelling. Institutions of democracy are being eroded. Important roles in government are being given to political friends. And there is no proper scrutiny of Ministerial decision making. We must act now to rein in corruption in Australia.”

For comment Han Aulby 0427 079 729