Written by Georgie Moore AAP. Originally published: 07/02/2022
Scott Morrison has indicated there’s still time for the federal government to bring on its legislation for an integrity commission, as his attorney-general insists it cannot act without Labor’s support.
The government is prioritising its bill to boost discrimination protections for religious Australians over a Commonwealth Integrity Commission also promised before the 2019 election.
When questioned on Monday about how the government could justify not delivering on an election promise, Mr Morrison told reporters: “The term is not over yet.”
The government has repeatedly sought to blame Labor’s lack of support for the coalition bill as the reason for not bringing it forward.
Attorney-General Michaelia Cash’s office said the government was “committed to passing its Commonwealth Integrity Commission legislation which has been subject to years of consultation and is publicly available”.
“Unfortunately, the Labor Party have ruled out supporting our legislation for political reasons,” a spokesman said.
There are likely only five Senate and 10 lower house sitting days before the election that must be held by the end of May.
The government’s proposed model has been criticised by the Centre for Public Integrity as the weakest such body in the country, should it be implemented in its current form.
A federal body with powers akin to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption has been roundly rejected by the government and its methods criticised as a witch hunt.
Independent MP Helen Haines last year tried to force debate on her proposed integrity bill, prompting Liberal backbencher Bridget Archer to cross the floor in support.
The coalition has been embroiled in a series of funding scandals including colour-coded spreadsheets funnelling car park funding into marginal seats as well as the sports rorts saga. Mr Morrison last year cited the resignation of then-NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian over an ICAC investigation as a reason not to adopt a NSW-style anti corruption body.