Opinion: Australia must take the heat out of the political fundraising arms race

By Han Aulby, originally published in the Guardian 15 June 2020. Public trust in government is low. Regular allegations of MPs misspending public money do little to aid this. Reforms are needed to strengthen political culture and rebuild public trust. There are ongoing allegations of misspending of public money, whether in relation to the $1bn… Read More

National Covid-19 Coordination Commission scrutinised

By Mike Seccombe, originally published in the Saturday Paper 16th May 2020. Neville Power, the mining company executive hand-picked by the prime minister to lead the body planning Australia’s recovery in the post-Covid-19 world, was a no-show on Wednesday. And that was a great pity, for the senate select committee established to inquire into the… Read More

Joint statement on Covid Coordination Commission

Today, a former NSW Court of Appeal judge Anthony Whealy QC, and law and integrity groups, are calling on the Prime Minister to establish greater transparency and integrity measures for the opaque and unaccountable National Covid Coordination Commission (NCCC) and its Manufacturing Working Group, ahead of the Commission’s appearance at Covid Select Senate Committee hearings.… Read More

Zali Steggall increasingly concerned about Morrison government’s Covid Commission

By Katharine Murphy, originally published in the Guardian 13 May 2020. The independent MP Zali Steggall says she is increasingly concerned about the Morrison government’s influential National Covid Coordination Commission, because there is “no transparency about its governance or processes”. With representatives of the commission to appear before a Senate inquiry to answer questions about… Read More

Letter to PM – Parliament must resume

To Prime Minister Scott Morrison, We are concerned with ensuring greater parliamentary scrutiny and safeguarding democratic processes in relation to the government’s response to COVID-19. Normal Parliamentary sittings have been adjourned until August. Individual Ministers have been given the power to allocate multi-billion dollar discretionary funds and write the rules for major policy response programs.… Read More

Calls to end ‘undemocratic adjournment of parliament

By Chris Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 11 May 2020. A former high court judge and public service chief have written to Scott Morrison calling for the full resumption of parliament, saying the current lack of accountability and scrutiny is “undemocratic and unprecedented”. A group of 10 former judges, leading lawyers, integrity experts, and… Read More

Hybrid parliament needed to safeguard Australian democracy during Covid-19 crisis

By Chris Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 28 April 2020. New briefing paper: Parliamentary sittings during COVID-19 crisis. Australia should urgently adopt the United Kingdom parliament’s hybrid model of in-person and online attendance to allow for greater scrutiny of government during the Covid-19 crisis, according to former senior judge and integrity expert Anthony Whealy.… Read More

COVID-19 ministerial powers need to be reined in

By Professor Joo Cheong Tham, originally published in the Canberra Times 27th April 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has seen extraordinary powers conferred upon individual Ministers. Under the Biosecurity Act, the Health Minister has emergency powers to issue requirements to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. The Finance Minister now has at his disposal a… Read More

Democracy remains essential in the COVID-19 pandemic

By Professor Joo Cheong Tham, originally published in the Canberra Times on 13th April 2020. Should democracy be deferred in the COVID-19 pandemic? An unmistakable trend in this crisis has been to highly centralised, expert-driven government decision-making, with less space for democratic deliberation. The Commonwealth Parliament was adjourned to August (until it was recently recalled… Read More