Morrison walks from federal integrity commission, blames Labor

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has abandoned his 2019 election promise to establish a federal integrity commission, blaming Labor for not supporting the government’s model, as Opposition leader Anthony Albanese accused him of wanting to shield his ministers from corruption probes. Morrison sought to pin the blame on the Opposition for the failed commitment, saying his… Read More

MPs contradict Morrison on federal ICAC

Written by Finbarr O’Mallon on April 15 2022. Originally published in the Northern Beaches Review. Government frontbenchers have tried to walk back the prime minister’s lack of commitment to establishing a federal corruption watchdog if he wins next month’s election. Scott Morrison this week backflipped on a 2019 election promise to establish a federal anti-corruption… Read More

Labor: Corruption watchdog ‘overdue’

Written by Tess Ikonomou. Originally published in the Northern Beaches Review on APRIL 14 2022 A vote for Labor will be a vote for a “long overdue” national anti-corruption watchdog, the party’s election campaign spokesman says. Jason Clare criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday afternoon over his refusal to commit to establishing a commission.… Read More

Taxpayers fund $55.6 billion in federal grants over less than four years

Taxpayers have funded $55.6 billion in federal grants over less than four years under rules that give ministers sweeping powers to decide the payments, with new research fuelling an election row over calls to establish a national integrity commission to safeguard public funds. The findings show the grants reached $20 billion last year alone across… Read More

Albanese challenges PM on federal corruption watchdog amid $55b grant concerns

Written by Finbar O’Mallon and originally published on on 19 April 2022 Scott Morrison says he’ll only introduce his highly criticised model for a federal anti-corruption body if Labor promises to let it through unchanged. Labor leader Anthony Albanese has promised to legislate a federal anti-corruption commission by the end of the year if… Read More

Pork barrel politics isn’t just about integrity; it is corrupt

Written by Anthony Whealy. The current chair of the Centre for Public Integrity he is a former NSW Supreme Court judge and a former assistant commissioner of the ICAC. This article was originally published in the Australian Financial Review on May 2, 2022. It is a concern when a major newspaper, in this case, The… Read More

Over $55 billion in grants necessitates new scrutiny framework

A new framework for the administration of government grants is urgently required, according to new research by the Centre for Public Integrity. With over $55 billion in government grants distributed by the Morrison Government, and the Australian National Audit Office finding systemic problems with grant administration, greater scrutiny is vital. The research recommends a tripartite… Read More

Federal budget cuts to integrity bodies spark calls for independent funding

Written by Christopher Knauss. Originally published in the Guardian on March 31 2022 Key integrity bodies suffered direct cuts to their funding in the federal budget, while others continue to be starved of the resources they need to hold the government accountable, analysis reveals. Tuesday night’s budget reduced funding for the commonwealth ombudsman, the administrative… Read More

Scott Morrison’s mystery $13.8 billion campaign war chest

A campaign war chest worth $13.8 billion will help fund a seat-by-seat battle for power at the election after the federal government set up dozens of funds in Tuesday’s budget to woo voters with promises that range from big energy projects to local community schemes. The election strategy pours taxpayer funds into programs that do… Read More

Media release – Budget cuts to ABC and ANAO in real terms + Independent Funding Tribunal needed

Cuts to ABC and ANAO show need for independent funding Funding for accountability institutions is threatened by political budget cycles and should be made independent, according to research and budget analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity. The 2022-2023 budget includes: “Despite promising to restore funding to the ABC and the ANAO, this budget gives… Read More

Why we need an inquiry into our Covid-19 response

Written by George Williams, Centre board member and University of New South Wales deputy vice-chancellor and professor of law. Originally published in the Australian on March 20 2022. The extreme measures deployed by governments to combat Covid-19 have produced white-hot anger in parts of the community. Vaccination mandates, border closures and lockdowns have fuelled protest… Read More

Clive Palmer spends 100 times more than major parties on advertising

Clive Palmer has spent more than $31 million since August on political attack advertising for his United Australia Party, dwarfing the outlay of the major parties and putting him on track to fulfil his promise to run the most expensive election campaign in the nation’s history. The advertising blitz in the lead-up to an expected… Read More

Rules on political donations must be tightened to restore trust

Written by Centre board member, George Williams, professor of law at the University of NSW. Originally published in the Australian on 7/3/22 State politics has yet again been tainted by crooked donations. The Independent Commission Against Corruption made findings of corruption last week against people including former NSW Labor MP Ernest Wong over attempts to… Read More

An Old Problem Suddenly Dominates Australia’s Election: ‘Dark Money’

Originally published in the New York Times. Written by Damien Cave. SYDNEY, Australia — When Dr. Ken Coghill served in the Victoria state legislature in the early 1980s, he joined a movement to reform Australia’s campaign finance system, which allowed donations to slosh through politics, with donors mostly able to hide their identities and contributions.… Read More

Federal anti-corruption commission ruled out before election as government refuses to introduce bill

Written by ABC political reporter Matthew Doran and originally published on February 7 2022 A national anti-corruption commission will not be established before the next federal election. Prime Minister Scott Morrison first announced a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) in December 2018, alongside then attorney-general Christian Porter.  Despite years of consultation and draft legislation being released,… Read More

Media release: Blueprint to rein in money in politics

Urgent reform of political donations laws is needed to stop the flows of hidden money in politics, and rein in record campaign spending and millionaire donors, according to new research by the Centre for Public Integrity. The Centre for Public Integrity, led by former judges and corruption experts, has published a Blueprint to Rein in… Read More

Steggall misstep highlights urgent need for political donation reform

Written by Han Aulby, executive director at the Centre for Public Integrity. Originally published in the Age Feb 15 2022 This week’s revelation that Independent MP Zali Steggall did not disclose the source of a $100,000 donation from the Kinghorn Family Trust shows that the problem of hidden money in politics goes beyond the major… Read More

Breaking election promise on integrity commission could prove costly

Written by Rob Harris on Feb 7 2022. Originally published in the Age. The chances of a long-promised federal integrity commission being established by May could well be a neat analogy with Scott Morrison’s current predicament. The clock is ticking and there mightn’t be much time left. An admission from federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash on… Read More

Coalition has time for integrity bill: PM

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… Read More

Politics Federal election no time for federal ICAC: Cash

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash says class action reforms and a federal integrity commission will have to wait until after the election as the government pursues laws on religious freedom and online trolls in the final days of parliament. Senator Cash said the first priority of the Prime Minister was to ensure passage of the Religious Discrimination… Read More

Labor says PM ‘cannot be trusted’ as Cash shelves integrity commission pledge

Written by David Crowe and originally published in the Age on February 7, 2022 Labor leader Anthony Albanese will go to the election telling voters the only way to ensure integrity in politics is to elect a new government after Attorney-General Michaelia Cash shelved a promise made three years ago to create a federal anti-corruption… Read More

How we can level the playing field on political donations

Written by the Centre for Public Integrity’s Executive Director, Han Aulby, and Research Director, Dr Catherine Williams. Originally published on Feb 2 2022 Continuing his trend of exposing the weaknesses of Australia’s democracy, Clive Palmer recently announced that his United Australia Party will run the most expensive campaign in Australian history at this year’s election, surpassing the… Read More

Law firms make big donations to the Labor Party

Written by Michael Kelly and originally published in the Australian Financial Review on Feb 3 2022 Holding Redlich was the biggest law firm donor to political parties in 2020-21, with its administrative arm – Justice Services Pty Ltd – contributing more than $130,000 to the Labor Party. Big contributions during the Queensland state election pushed… Read More

Hidden money: Political parties rake in $68 million from mystery sources

More than $68 million in unexplained money flooded into political parties in the past financial year, making up almost 40 per cent of all donations, with integrity advocates warning the secrecy around who donates to Australia’s political powerbrokers must end. An analysis from the Centre for Public Integrity published on Friday found the hidden money,… Read More

Stephen Charles: The case for a national integrity commission

Last Saturday, in these pages, the independent candidate for Curtin, Kate Chaney, said that the government’s whole purpose now was to “get in power and stay in power”. This is accurate, although the reality is much worse because of the means the government is prepared to use to do so. We know that before the… Read More

Media Release – $68 million in political funding hidden from public view

New research from the Centre for Public Integrity shows hidden money continues to fund our democracy. Analysis of the latest AEC figures shows: “The source of almost $70 million in party income was hidden last year alone. This secrecy needs to stop,” said Geoffrey Watson SC, a director of the Centre for Public Integrity. “The… Read More

Almost a quarter of political donations come from ‘handful’ of sources as Anthony Pratt tops list

Former top judge Anthony Whealy, who now heads an independent think tank, said the top 10 donors funded almost a quarter of all donations, but a significant portion of political funding was “shrouded in secrecy.” Businessman Anthony Pratt was the biggest political donor in the last financial year, handing almost $1.3 million to the Liberal… Read More

Political donation data feeds reform call

Nearly a quarter of all political donations across the 2020/21 financial year came from just 10 sources, renewing calls for reform. Newly published Australian Electoral Commission data shows the Liberal and National parties reaped nearly $84 million combined, while Labor received more than $67.3 million Just 10 donors accounted for more than $4.2 million, or… Read More

Coalition boosts donations ahead of election, electoral commission figures reveal

The Liberal, National and Labor parties have strengthened their financial positions ahead of this year’s federal election, with big money flowing from the resources and pharmaceutical/medical sectors. But the source of the vast majority of funding going to political parties and campaigners is hidden from the public under existing disclosure laws, with just $17.9 million… Read More

Anthony Pratt gave Liberals $1.3m while upstart political groups gain sizeable donations

Anthony Pratt’s Pratt Holdings was the biggest political donor in the last year, tipping $1.3m into Liberal party coffers ahead of the 2022 election. The Australian Electoral Commission released disclosures for the 2020-21 financial year on Tuesday, revealing significant donations to upstart political movements including $1m to conservative lobby group Advance Australia and $300,000 to… Read More

Sources of millions in funding to Labor and Liberals kept secret in political donations disclosures

The source of tens of millions of dollars in electoral funding remains a secret, with political parties not disclosing where more than a third of their income comes from. The Australian Electoral Commission’s annual release of financial disclosures by political parties has revealed some of the major donors in 2020-21, but has also raised questions about where… Read More

Concerns over ‘opaque’ political donations

Donations to Australia’s two major political parties are dominated by “large and opaque” sources, sparking calls for a real-time disclosure scheme and caps. About 42 per cent of Liberal donations and 33 per cent of Labor donations since 1998/99 have come from associated entities, the Centre for Public Integrity says. Associated entities can include such… Read More

Political party donation profiles – 1998/9-2019/20

Australian political parties reported receiving over $1.24 billion in donations in the 22 years from 1998/99 – 2019/2020. Both donor and party-reported disclosures to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) reveal that the financing of our political parties is dominated by large and opaque donations. Donations peak in election years, suggesting that private interests seek to… Read More

Who pays the piper? Political parties funded by associated entities and millionaires

Media release 31st January 2022 New research by the Centre for Public Integrity finds that the funding of our political parties is dominated by opaque associated entities and large donations over $1 million. Analysis of donations declared to the AEC over 22 years from 1998/1999-2019/2020 shows that: The Australian Labor Party was the largest fundraiser,… Read More

Watchful optimism about Victoria’s new pandemic bill

Written by Dr Catherine Williams (research director of the Centre for Public Integrity) Professor Gabrielle Appleby (Professor of Law, UNSW), Associate Professor William Partlett (University of Melbourne Law School) and Associate Professor Maria O’Sullivan (Associate Professor and deputy director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University). This article was originally published in the Age on… Read More

Maybe the Prime Minister doesn’t actually want to win?

Written by Dr Colleen Lewis. Dr Lewis is a member of the Centre’s National Integrity Committee and is an honorary professor at the ANU’s Australian Studies Institute. This article was originally published in the Canberra Times on Nov 30 2021 When reflecting on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s statements in Federal Parliament last week, one could… Read More

The prime minister’s attack on the NSW ICAC is wholly unjustified

By Stephen Charles QC AO Director at the Centre for Public Integrity. Originally published in Pearls and Irritations on Nov 29 2021 The Coalition’s proposal for a national integrity commission shows an arrogant and contemptuous disdain for community demands such a body. Last week the prime minister made an extraordinary attack on the New South… Read More

Federal watchdog proposal a ‘sham’, intended to protect parliamentarians

Written by Centre for Public Integrity Board member Stephen Charles QC. Originally published in the Age November 9 2021. If not for an investigation by this masthead and Nine’s 60 Minutes program, alleged improper practices in the electorate office of a federal minister may never have faced public scrutiny. Information produced by the investigation into the electorate… Read More

‘Standards have slipped dramatically’: Integrity experts warn of more pork-barrelling

Former New South Wales Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy says political “standards have slipped dramatically” to a point where the misuse of public funds has become normalised. Originally published 11 November 2021 for SBS news. Written by Tom Stayner There is nothing to stop pork-barrelling ahead of the next federal election, integrity experts have told a… Read More

Victoria’s controversial pandemic bill: 6 ways for the government to show it is serious about scrutiny

Written by Dr Catherine Williams, Professor Gabrielle Appleby, Associate Professor Maria O’Sullivan, Associate Professor William Partlett. Originally published in the Conversation on November 15 2021. Victoria’s Pandemic Management Bill, designed to replace the current state of emergency powers in pandemic emergencies, has swiftly become one of the state’s most polarising pieces of legislation. Amid the… Read More