More talks for federal corruption watchdog

·2-min read

The Morrison government is preparing for yet another round of consultation on a national corruption watchdog first promised in 2018.

Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker on Tuesday confirmed the government would seek a third round of feedback on proposed laws for the national body.

"While I can't give you a finalised time, the progress that we're making I think indicates the government commitment to both delivering on this but also to getting it right," she told parliament.

Senator Stoker said she was hopeful of introducing a final bill to parliament before the next federal election, which is expected next year.

"I'm not keen on sitting on it, but I think it would be counterproductive to put a fixed date on it at the moment," she said.

Greens senator Larissa Waters criticised the latest delay.

"This was an election commitment prior to the last election so it would be pretty disrespectful to the Australian public to sit it out for another election," she told the Senate hearing.

"The confidence in democracy is at all-time lows and the clamour for a federal body has been happening for a long time now."

The government first released plans to establish an integrity commission in late 2018 after mounting political pressure.

Both major parties made election commitments to advance a proposed watchdog to weed out corruption at a federal level, while the Greens have long been in favour of the idea.

The coalition's initial framework proposal copped criticism for being too narrow, prompting crossbench MPs to push alternative models.

After blaming the coronavirus pandemic for further delays, the government released an exposure draft bill for a body known as the Commonwealth Integrity Commission in November last year.

Officials said there had been 334 submissions responding to the exposure draft, with 57 available publicly and the remainder likely to be released.

Senator Stoker said the government was keen to reflect the latest feedback in the next version of the anti-corruption body.

"It is absolutely the case we are engaging constructively and we are open to making improvements to the bill to make sure we get it right," she said.