Scott Morrison rejects calls to adopt stronger federal anti-corruption commission model

The prime minister has delivered a fiery defence of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian as he declared he doesn’t want his federal anti-corruption commission to be a "kangaroo court".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has fended off pressure over his government’s progress creating a federal anti-corruption commission, rejecting calls for it to introduce a tougher model.

Mr Morrison’s response in parliament came after the government narrowly managed to stop a crossbench effort to bring on debate around a national integrity commission.

He made clear the position alongside a fiery defence of former New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian who he said had been "done over" by her state's corruption commission.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during Question Time.
Source: AAP

Critics have complained that the federal government’s proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) would not go far enough towards addressing accountability concerns.

But Mr Morrison told parliament on Thursday he would reject pressure from Labor to make major changes to the model.

“Those opposite want to support the sort of show which has seen the most shameful attacks on the former premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian,” he said.

“What was done to Gladys Berejiklian, the people of NSW know, was an absolute disgrace.

“I’m not going to have a kangaroo court taken into this Parliament. These matters should be looking at criminal conduct, not who your boyfriend is.”

Independent Helen Haines and Liberal Bridget Archer leave the chamber after crossing the floor during a division on allowing debate on an integrity commission.
Source: AAP

Labor leader Anthony Albanese had questioned Mr Morrison why the government had failed to implement its proposed model, almost three years after it was promised.

Mr Morrison attempted to deflect the attack towards his concerns about the investigation into Ms Berejiklian by NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

“I’m not going to allow that sort of a process, which seeks to publicly humiliate people on matters that have nothing to do with the issues before such as a commission,” he said.

“The Australian people know that Gladys Berejiklian was done over by a bad process and an abuse.”

Earlier, Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer had embarrassed the federal government, crossing the floor in an attempt to bring on a debate about introducing a corruption watchdog.

She supported a motion from independent MP Helen Haines who called for an urgent debate on the matter in the House of Representatives.

Ms Archer was described as the "lioness of the 46th parliament" and a "hero" by independent MPs for her decision.

She was supported by the opposition, Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Craig Kelly, Bob Katter, Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie.

Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines at press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Source: AAP

The government had the fewest votes when it came to two separate motions on whether to allow a debate to take place.

But as an absolute majority of 76 votes was required in the 151-member chamber, debate did not continue.

Ms Haines later fronted a press conference alongside members of the crossbench accusing the government of standing in the way of the "will of the people."

"It’s absolutely clear now that this prime minister - this government - does not wish to instigate a federal integrity commission," she told reporters.

The government’s CIC legislation has yet to go to the coalition party room or parliament with only one sitting week remaining in the year.

The Centre for Public Integrity - a group of former judges and prosecutors - is among those to reject the draft CIC as not fit for purpose.

The group has said this is because it does not allow the commission to launch its own investigations, allow members of the public to refer suspected corruption and lacks capability to hold public hearings.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said the government's refusal to bring on the debate showed why the Australian community has had a "gutful of politics and politicians".

"There is one man standing in the road - [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison - stop being pigheaded - swallow your pride and pay attention to the vote today," he said.

Ms Archer's decision followed Queensland MP George Christensen crossing the floor on Wednesday over a bill dealing with class actions.

Mr Albanese accused Mr Morrison of "losing control of his government" in an interjection during Question Time.

Published 25 November 2021 at 12:52pm, updated 25 November 2021 at 5:28pm
By Tom Stayner
Source: SBS News