Dozens of former Australian judges published an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on the national anti-corruption authority to restore public confidence in the country’s democratic process.
The letter, written by 34 former judges, including sir Gerard Brennan, former chief justice of the Supreme court of Australia, States that there are deep suspicions among the ETS public that corruption permeates many of the government’s actions. It is reported by Reuters.
“Secrecy is the basis of corruption behavior,” the letter published in the media says.
“Existing Federal integrity agencies do not have the necessary jurisdiction, authority and know-how to properly investigate the impartiality and integrity of decisions taken by the Federal government and the public sector.”
“In order to fill the gaps in our system of integrity and restore confidence in our democracy, a national integrity Commission is urgently needed.”
Public concerns about possible corruption in government decision-making have increased in recent years.
Transparency International Australia, an anti-corruption organization, conducted a survey in June in which 85 percent of people believe that at least some members of the national Parliament are corrupt, and two-thirds of Australians support the establishment of a national anti-corruption body.
The Secretary of state for New South Wales was jailed last year for wilful misconduct in public office following the issuance of a mining license without competition.
Concerns have also been raised that high-level government officials receive lucrative Advisory services or Board positions from firms that then win contracts from their previous departments, said AJ Brown, a Professor of public policy at Griffith University and a member of the Board of Transparency International.
The judges ‘ letter was coordinated by the progressive think tank Institute of Australia, which worked with legal experts to develop an anti-corruption body.
Researcher at the Institute of Australia Hannah Aulby said that their goal is to support transparency in the political process. “There’s not enough accountability,” she told Reuters over the phone.
Independent MP Katie McGowan plans to put forward a bill to create a national anti-corruption body in the Federal Parliament when it resumes on Monday. The labour opposition supports the national anti-corruption body, but the opposition ruling conservative minority government is against it.
Attorney General Christian porter told Reuters that this model would provide emergency powers against civil servants with a definition of “corruption” that was too broad.
“These powers can be used without proper checks and balances,” he said in an email statement.