Call for federal corruption watchdog
Palmer United Party (PUP) Western Australian senator, Zhenya “Dio” Wang wants to revisit the concept of a federal corruption watchdog.
Senator Wang, who instigated a Senate inquiry into the establishment of a federal corruption watchdog, said he would start the process again if re-elected.
All Senate inquiries underway when the double dissolution was called on May 9, 2016 were dissolved, along with Parliament.
Senator Wang from Western Australia was leading the inquiry into the set up of a National Integrity Commission.
The truncated inquiry meant the committee was only able to hold two public hearings but it did receive a number of submissions.
Senator Wang handed down an interim report, saying the inquiry heard one in three Australians were concerned about corruption at a federal level.
“Look, we need a national corruption watchdog,” he said.
“It’s not only about making federal politics and (federal) government agencies squeaky clean, but also it can address the perception that the federal parliament and agencies are corrupt.”
Senator Wang said a common theme throughout the inquiry was why do state governments had independent corruption bodies but the federal government did not.
“For example New South Wales has the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), and Western Australia has the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).
“How come all the states have a corruption watch dog but there’s no such thing in the federal sphere?”
Lock the Gate wants federal corruption body to feature in election
Anti-mining and gas group Lock the Gate supported Senator Wang’s push for a National Integrity Commission.
“We believe a federal corruption watchdog is the only way we’re going to see proper regulation and transparency in decision making,” coordinator Phil Laird said.
The group is particularly concerned with what it perceives to be undue influence wielded by resources companies that make political donations.
“We believe that with the sheer amount of money that’s donated, there really is an expectation that corruption could exist.
“So not only would we like to see the donations made more transparent, we would also like to see the amount of donations that are able to be made to political parties brought down; so only open to people registered on the electoral roll, and only for small amounts.”
Mining lobby group says ‘argument not made’ for a federal body
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) does not accept that its mining-company members have made large political donations.
“Going on figures published the Electoral Commission (we do see) that Clive Palmer was a major donor, but that was to his own political party,” CEO Brendan Pearson said.
“But there isn’t a significant amount of political donations made by mining companies to either political party.”
An ICAC inquiry has previously ruled on corrupt dealings with politicians in relation to issuing of mining licenses, but Mr Pearson said that was a state government issue.
“On that state level there were individual ministers in individual governments who did favours for some of their individual mates, but don’t draw from that a notion that there’s a systemic problem.”
Brendan Pearson said the MCA was not opposed to the formation of a federal government corruption watchdog but so far the arguments for one were not strong enough.
“In any public debate, if you want to make a change and introduce something, you’ve got to make the case (to do so),” he said.
“We shouldn’t spend money on new creations, new bodies, to do something when there’s no case for it.
“There was a discussion on this a few weeks ago (in federal parliament) and the major parties said no case has been made.”