Federal anti-corruption agency will have the ability to investigate ‘what it sees fit’, says Anthony Albanese

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a federal anti-corruption commission set up by his government would have “the ability to review what it sees fit” to investigate.
Mr Albanese pledged during the election campaign to legislate a national integrity body ‘with teeth’ by the end of the year if Labor won government.
Asked by ABC Radio Perth’s Nadia Mitsopoulos on Friday whether the committee’s retrospective meant it could look at events such as parking or sporting matters, Mr Albanese said: “What that means is that we want an independent national anti-corruption commission that will not be told by the executive what it can review, so it will have the ability to review what it sees fit”.
Last year, an Auditor General’s report revealed that the Morrison government’s handling of a .
In 2020, the Auditor General found a noting the use of color-coded spreadsheets and a memo that talked about target seats for the federal election.

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“Part of the fault in the [former] The government’s frankly pathetic model was for ministers to agree on the possibility of investigating whatever they were engaged with,’ he said.
“My government will not have that veto power, nor any processes or issues that the anti-corruption commission sees fit to examine.”
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised in the 2019 election to create a National Integrity Commission in the next Parliament, but failed to do so.
He argued in April that the Liberals’ model did not have enough support to pass Parliament, adding that which he says is established in New South Wales at state level.
“At the last election we said we would seek to put one in place. We have drawn up policy, drawn up detailed legislation, Labor did not agree,” Mr Morrison said at the time.
The term “kangaroo court” is often used to describe an ad hoc tribunal that has limited power and does not follow normal legal procedures.
New South Wales ICAC commissioner Stephen Rushton has been tagged following Mr. Morrison’s comments.

‘Misinformation’ has spread over the legality of the pork barrel, says outgoing NSW ICAC chief commissioner

Misinformation has been spread about the legality of the ‘pork barrel’ by high-level politicians who do not appear to understand the law, the chief commissioner of corruption watchdog NSW has said.
The outgoing chief commissioner of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, Peter Hall, has said recent comments by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggesting barreling pork was not illegal lacked legal understanding.
Mr Hall made the comments during a forum convened by the ICAC on Friday to examine the legality and ethics of the pork barrel.

Pork keg is the practice of spending taxpayers’ money to build political support or, in the context of an election, win votes.

ICAC chief commissioner Peter Hall says the attacks on the Prime Minister's anti-corruption watchdog are

ICAC chief commissioner Peter Hall has said the attacks on the Prime Minister’s anti-corruption watchdog are “misguided and baseless”. Source: AAP / JOEL CARRETT/AAPIMAGE

“There seems to be an amount of uncertainty and misinformation, as to whether or not pork barreling practices are legal,” Hall said.

“During the last federal election, the former prime minister, in reference to the practice of pork barreling, raised the issue, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, quote: ‘No one is suggesting anyone broke some laws, right?
“Some ministerial comments to similar effect have been made at the state level, suggesting that casking pork is normal and legal.”
The comments were concerning and appeared to show elected officials at the highest levels of government had an apparent lack of knowledge of the law, he said.

Four elements of the law could apply to the pork barrel, Mr Hall said, including the principles of public trust, the common law offense of misconduct in public office, the NSW Ministerial Code and jurisdiction and the statutory functions of the ICAC.

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Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously defended barrel pork as ‘not illegal’ after it was revealed that 95% of the $252 million Stronger Communities grant scheme Fund had been allocated 95% to the seats held by the Coalition.
She admitted the grants may have helped her government win the 2019 election.
“All governments and all oppositions make commitments to the community in order to curry favor with each other,” she said in November 2020.
“It’s not an illegal practice, unfortunately it happens from time to time by all governments,” she said.

“The term hog casking is common parlance…it’s not something I know the community is comfortable with and if that’s the charge on this occasion…well, I am happy to accept this comment.”

As the 2019 election approached, John Barilaro, then leader of the NSW Nationals, told AAP he aspired to be state treasurer and wanted the nickname “Pork Barrel-aro”.
“People already call me Pork Barrel-aro… I’d probably take it to another level,” he said.
The director of the Constitutional Reform Unit, Anne Twomey, told the forum that many MPs and ministers were not given enough guidance after being elected.
‘MPs and ministers are not formally trained in their roles, they are trained by apprenticeship,’ Prof Twomey said.

“And in that learning base, that’s where they learn hog barrel and all those sorts of things, and it becomes totally normalized.

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“If you talk to parliamentarians about this stuff, they think people like me are completely crazy and unrealistic.
“Because that’s how it is. It’s normal. That’s how it works.
Opposition NSW Treasury spokesman Daniel Mookhey said any new ideas on tackling the pork barrel would be welcomed by Labor.
“The very fact that the ICAC thinks it must take the almost unprecedented step of convening a forum to consider these issues raises serious doubts about the integrity of this government.”

Additional reporting by Amy Hall

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