The National Anti-Corruption Commission has received 1200 reports, launched three new corruption investigations and hired 50 new staff members since its inception more than three months ago, as the body’s chief reaffirms its dedication to exposing and preventing misconduct.
Commissioner Paul Brereton on Monday released a video detailing the NACC’s achievements over the past 100 days, including 27 presentations to parliamentarians, senior public servants, agency heads and staff, boardrooms, committees and associations.
Mr Brereton said 90 per cent of reports had come from the public using an online web form, which “confirms that Australians are insisting on integrity across the public sector”.
“In our first 100 days, we have made a strong start to enhancing integrity in the public sector. But we cannot do it alone,” he said.
“Our institutions must embrace, from the top down and at every level, a culture in which the giving of honest if unwelcome advice and reports is not dissuaded, but encouraged; in which decisions are made impartially, on the evidence and the merits, in the public interest and without regard to personal interest; and in which responsibility and accountability is accepted, including for the inevitable mistakes.
“In this, and in insisting on integrity, every one of you has a role to play.”
Embattled consultancy giant PwC was referred to the NACC earlier this year by Greens senator Barbara Pocock, after revelations staff within the firm leaked confidential government information to clients.
Liberal senator Linda Reynolds promised to refer a compensation payout given to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, and Teal independent Zali Steggall has considered referring taxpayer support for the Beetaloo basin and grants through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.
While the NACC refuses to provide details on the specifics of the investigations, Centre for Public Integrity chair and former NSW Court of Appeal judge Anthony Whealy said it was unlikely the investigations would “relate to things involving the previous government”.
“The NACC will be very careful not to go after political opponents who are part of the Coalition. There might be one there, but they will be very careful not to go into that field,” he said.
“Paul Brereton is very conscious of the fact he doesn’t want to see the NACC politicised. That has been one criticism since before it was formed –- that it was a political hammer. He’s concerned that not happen. They’ll start off gently and these three investigations won’t necessarily be front page stuff.”
Mr Whealy said the body seemed to be tracking at a similar pace to the NSW ICAC, which receives about 2500 inquiries a year from which it launches about 12 investigations.
“It looks to me like it is doing its job so far, and 50 staff is encouraging,” he said.
Written by ELLIE DUDLEY. Originally published in the Australian on October 9, 2023.