Author: Zulfi Meerza 24 October 2022
The Australian government has announced plans to form a national agency to combat corruption in the public sector.
Legislation has been drafted to create the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate wrongdoing at all levels of federal government.
The NACC will examine allegations of serious or systemic corrupt conduct across the public sector by ministers, parliamentarians and their staff, statutory officer holders, employees of all government entities and government contractors.
A total of A$272 million ($176 million) is being allocated to fund the proposed agency over the next four years. It will operate independently of government, will be overseen by a dedicated parliamentary committee and will be “empowered to make findings of fact” and to refer any findings of criminal conduct to federal police or the director of public prosecutions. It will also have the power to call public hearings in exceptional circumstances. It has not so far been stated whether the NACC will have any special investigation powers or be able to issue its own penalties.
Creating the NACC was an election campaign promise of the centre-left Labour party, which came to power five months ago.
The plan is a clear indicator of the government’s intention to root out fraudulent, corrupt and wrongful conduct within all levels of the public sector. The proposed reach of the NACC is also significant, as it is set to extend to investigating the conduct of non-public officials who seek to influence a public official’s powers or duties.
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