Australian Government Looking for Bipartisan Support of a ‘Balanced’ Integrity Bill

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
November 27, 2021 Updated: November 28, 2021

The Morrison government is sticking to its argument that Labor must agree to its version of an integrity commission before introducing legislation to parliament.

Senator Anne Ruston told the ABC’s Insiders program that the government believes its bill “is a fair balance between making sure that serious corruption is called out and dealt with, but at the same time, we want to maintain the rule of law in this country, and you must be presumed innocence until you are proven guilty, and need to be really careful you’re not convicted in the court of public opinion before you have a chance to put your case forward.”

“One of the things that we do need to be really careful of is that you don’t set up a structure that then allows for political purpose and political gain, one party to actually prosecute somebody from another party just for the political gain,” she said.

The government says draft legislation has been available for scrutiny for some time, but Labor says it does not go far enough.

Liberal backbencher Bridget Archer crossed the floor of parliament last week to back an independent attempt to bring on debate about a federal integrity commission.

As the federal minister for Families and Social Services of Australia, Ruston says if the Labor Party is prepared to support the legislation that is before them, then the government will bring it to parliament.

“One of the most important things for something as important as an integrity commission is to make sure it passes. The last thing we want to do is bring a bill into this place and then find out it won’t get through,” she said.

She said a bipartisan approach to something as important as an integrity commission would send a very strong message to the Australian public that the issue of serious corruption was being taken seriously.

“Our particular bill powers the commissioner well in excess of a royal commission, so I think it is a good, balanced bill that balances out calling out corruption but at the same time, protect the innocence of those until they are proven guilty,” she added.

By Colin Brinsden. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.