Strong public support for a new federal corruption fighter: new poll

By Stephen Easton

Thursday February 4, 2016

A new poll shows strong public support for the creation of a powerful anti-corruption commission that would have the power to investigate Commonwealth entities — and any other organisation.

About 80% of voters think a new independent anti-corruption body that could investigate organisations in any sector nationwide is not a bad idea, according to an Essential Media poll.

There’s been plenty of arguments from commentators outside government and cross-bench politicians in favour of a new statutory anti-corruption commission for the federal sphere, like those that exist at state level.

The prospect of a “federal ICAC” is generally not attractive to senior public servants or the major parties, who typically argue existing mechanisms provide sufficient accountability.

An organisation like what is proposed in the survey question would go much, much further, having the widest possible jurisdiction and possibly taking over functions from several existing bodies, including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

The poll was commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions as a way to hit back against the resurrection of another extremely powerful federal agency, the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

While a large majority of the 1000-odd respondents would like to see a powerful new sheriff with a nationwide focus, less than a quarter agreed that corruption is more common in unions than other organisations.

Greens leader Adam Bandt also said yesterday that the government should establish a federal ICAC with the power to investigate “employers and employees, politicians and public servants” anywhere in Australia, instead of re-establishing the ABCC.

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