National Integrity Commission

National Integrity Commission



National Integrity Commission - Suspension of Standing Orders

1 AUGUST 2019


Mr DREYFUS (Isaacs—Deputy Manager of Opposition Business) (09:31):  I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Isaacs from moving the following motion on notice standing in the name of the Member for Isaacs being called on immediately for debate and being determined by the House—That the House:

(1) notes:

  1. the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General announced on 13 December 2018 that a Commonwealth Integrity Commission would be established;
  2. on 13 December 2018, the Prime Minister said on 2GB the decision to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission "was something I had to resolve by the end of the year";
  3. on 26 May 2019, the Attorney-General said a Commonwealth Integrity Commission was a "priority"; and
  4. the Government has not established a Commonwealth Integrity Commission; and

(2) calls on the Government to keep its promise to establish its Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

This government is not serious about integrity or tackling corruption. If they were, they would establish a National Integrity Commission now. I can see why at least some members of this government may not want an integrity commission.

It's the sort of thing that may make, for example, the Minister for Home Affairs a bit nervous—the same Minister for Home Affairs who said that he had no sight of the payment of $423 million by his own department to a company called Paladin, which was based in an empty beach shack on Kangaroo Island, all without an open tender or other transparent process.

This is the same Minister for Home Affairs who awarded a $591 million contract to a mysterious Brisbane based company to run garrison and welfare services on Nauru without an open tender or a transparent process, a company whose chief executive officer made a personal donation to the Liberal-National Party while the terms of that contract were still being negotiated. This is the same Minister for Home Affairs who agreed to extend that lucrative contract in the same month that the Liberal-National Party received a donation from a related company registered to the same Brisbane address, or did the minister have no sight of that contract either?

I can think of something that the Minister for Home Affairs did have sight of: he personally intervened to award visas to at least two au pairs who were facing deportation for breaking Australian law; au pairs who were employed by the minister's former colleague and the family of a well-known Liberal Party donor. He can't hide behind his department for that one.

This Minister for Home Affairs is very lucky to be a member of a government that refuses to set up a Commonwealth integrity commission.

It's a Commonwealth integrity commission that may make quite a few Liberal Party MPs a bit nervous.

Government members interjecting

Mr DREYFUS:  I'm hearing from the government benches, 'That's rubbish!' Why is it that the government hasn't set up the Commonwealth Integrity Commission? Why is it that the government hasn't even listed a bill to be brought into the parliament this year, for the whole of 2019, to set up a Commonwealth integrity commission? Because this government is not in the least bit interested in integrity. They prove it on a daily basis in the way in which they ignore the scandalous conduct of their own ministers and the way in which they cover up the scandalous conduct of their own ministers. I say again, a National Integrity Commission might make a few Liberal Party MPs just a bit nervous.

I doubt that Senator Cash is a fan of the idea. Remember her? She's the minister who refused to cooperate with an Australian Federal Police investigation into the potentially criminal leaking by her own office of sensitive information about police operations. Let's just say that again: a minister in this third-term Liberal government has refused to cooperate with an Australian Federal Police inquiry into possible criminal wrongdoing by her own office. This is a government committed to integrity for everybody but themselves. Senator Cash is also very lucky to be a minister in a government that refuses to set up a National Integrity Commission.

What about the Minister for Health? What does he think about the idea of a National Integrity Commission? He's still got questions to answer, which he's refusing to do, about why he awarded a lucrative Medicare MRI licence to a clinic operated by the vice-president of the Liberal Party of South Australia. That's despite the clinic operating within five kilometres of nine other partially or fully Medicare-eligible MRI machines. We've got another minister that's very lucky to be a minister in a government that refuses to set up a National Integrity Commission.

You can't have a conversation about integrity and this third-term government without mentioning Bronwyn Bishop, the former Speaker. Who could ever forget the choppergate scandal, in which the former member for Mackellar so comprehensively disgraced herself? What about the Attorney-General himself, the architect of ensuring integrity for unions and welfare recipients? He's treated the Administrative Appeals Tribunal like a Liberal Party employment agency, appointing dozens of high-paying taxpayer-funded jobs, which should be going to properly qualified and experienced experts, to former Liberal Party MPs, to former Liberal Party staffers and failed Liberal Party candidates. Again, we have yet another minister who's very lucky to be a minister in a government which is refusing to set up a National Integrity Commission.

Then we come to another minister, the member for Fadden. This is the same member for Fadden, now in cabinet, extraordinarily, who was sacked from the ministry by a previous Liberal Prime Minister over multiple conflicts and the misuse of his ministerial position in the pursuit of the business interests of Liberal Party Donors in China. This Prime Minister has brought him back into the ministry of this third-term Liberal government, presumably because it would be a gross inconsistency to exclude someone from this particular ministry just because of a lack of integrity.

The member for Hume, who, along with his friend the Treasurer of Australia, still has questions to answer about the alleged illegal poisoning of critically endangered grasslands on a property partly owned by—guess who? The member for Hume. We know that his own department—the Department of the Environment and Energy, no less—is now investigating this same honourable member because of interest in a company called Jam Land Pty Ltd, which was involved in that alleged poisoning of critically endangered grasslands. We also know that record-breaking amounts of money were paid by the Commonwealth to buy water from a company with links to that member for Hume, a company that was owned by a Cayman Islands based entity.

The SPEAKER:  I will ask the member for Isaacs to resume his seat for a second. I'm listening very carefully to the member for Isaacs and being as tolerant as I can. I need to remind him, his motion is to suspend standing orders. This is not a substantive motion where he can be making accusation upon accusation. I've been listening to him. I've been as lenient as I can. I'm going to invite him to stick to the substance of his motion: why standing orders should be suspended.

If he manages to succeed in having that motion passed, there will then be an opportunity for him to go to the substantive points, but it is not an opportunity for him to—I'll put it in the most candid way I can—go on a wide spray of the members of the House. He's just got to argue why standing orders should be suspended.

Mr DREYFUS:  Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the guidance. Standing orders should be suspended because it is long past time for this parliament to be considering legislation to establish what the government seeks to call a Commonwealth Integrity Commission but, either way, a National Integrity Commission—an integrity commission that is capable of looking at the scandals after scandals that have beset this third-term Liberal government.

The reason standing orders should be suspended is that this parliament is not being given an opportunity to debate and, unless standing orders are suspended, we won't have an opportunity to debate why it is that this country needs to have a National Integrity Commission now, why this government needs to keep to the promise that the Prime Minister made as long ago as last December, that the Attorney-General made as long ago as last December, that the Attorney-General confirmed after the election. Yet we see from the list of legislation produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet that this government has no intention of bringing legislation before the parliament this year. We have no indication that they ever intend to bring legislation before this parliament to establish the national integrity commission that is sorely needed. We have had no indication from this Attorney-General when he is going to do this. All we have is the negative indication that the Prime Minister has no intention of doing it because the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has not even listed legislation to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission for even introduction this year, let alone passage this year.

We have been given a list of legislation by the government that lists a whole lot of other bills that the government may be bringing into the parliament, including a small number of them that the government has indicated are for passage this year, but not one of them deals with this vital subject of the establishment of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, which the government, this tired third-term Liberal government, promised to do at the election and failed to do.