Calls for probe into Tasmanian political grants, amid revelation club where Liberal family member is treasurer wins $50k

An integrity expert has called for an independent inquiry into the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s use of a controversial grants fund during the 2021 election campaign, arguing millions of dollars of taxpayer money may have been misappropriated. The Liberals established the Local Communities Facilities Fund as an election promise, and a “Liberal Party Policy team” internally… Read More

Labor to introduce real-time disclosures and slash donations thresholds

Politicians would have to declare political donations over $1000 in real time as part of a sweeping package of integrity measures Special Minister of State Don Farrell hopes to introduce by mid-2023. Labor also wants to introduce “truth in political advertising” laws and potentially double the number of senators allocated to the Northern Territory and… Read More

Stronger safeguards around lobbying are a must

In any democracy, lobbying is a vital component of the political process, ensuring that varied interest groups can make their case on specific issues to elected officials. It is a source of reforms to policy, from neighbourhood planning to our response to global issues such as climate change. But in all democracies there is the… Read More

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus orders Commonwealth to drop charges against lawyer Bernard Collaery

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has ordered the Commonwealth to drop the prosecution of lawyer Bernard Collaery, four years after he was charged with conspiring to release classified information about an alleged spying operation in East Timor. Mr Collaery was charged in 2018 for allegedly helping his client, an ex-spy known only as Witness K, to reveal… Read More

Albanese bans blind trusts and shares for ministers, keeps ‘bonk ban’

Federal government ministers have been told to sell off shareholdings and divest from blind trust arrangements under a tough new code of conduct implemented by Anthony Albanese. Maintaining a ban on sex between ministers and their staff, the Prime Minister said frontbenchers would be held personally responsible for managing their private financial affairs and could… Read More

A life dedicated to the law and justice, without fear or favour

This interview with our committee member Nicholas Cowdrey AO QC by Peter Fitzsimmons was published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 3 2022. Nicholas Richard Cowdery AO, QC, is the longest-serving director of public prosecutions in Australian history, having served in the role for NSW from 1994-2011. I talked to him on Friday morning.… Read More

Voters care about integrity – the Andrews government should pay heed

The Age Editorial published on June 30 2022. The message could not have been clearer at the last federal election. Voters do not see integrity, transparency and the misuse of public funds for political purposes as esoteric topics for think tank discussion groups, but fundamental issues that go to the heart of good government. These… Read More

Siblings’ planning ties highlight flaws in lobbying laws

Lobbying is an undeniable reality of government decision-making in Australia, and the OECD has recognised that it can make a valuable contribution to the democratic process. It also cautions, however, that lobbying can lead to “undue influence, unfair competition and regulatory capture to the detriment of the public”. Because of this, effective lobbying regulation is… Read More

The minister and the lobbyist: Blandthorn siblings face conflict questions

Premier Daniel Andrews’ appointment of new Planning Minister Lizzie Blandthorn has raised conflict-of-interest questions due to her lobbyist brother representing major development, construction and infrastructure clients. In an appointment that has unsettled some senior government and Labor insiders, the premier named Pascoe Vale MP Blandthorn to the sensitive planning role. Her brother, John-Paul Blandthorn, heads… Read More

Attorney-general considering abolishing AAT and starting from scratch

The government is considering whether it can scrap a review body stacked with Liberal-linked members as integrity experts call for transparency and competitiveness around senior public appointments. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is doing a “very serious review” of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which has taken up to two years to make decisions as case lists have… Read More