Labor pushes for federal ICAC

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has urged the federal government to press ahead with its proposed national integrity commission in the wake of revelations about a controversial land deal at Badgerys Creek in New South Wales.

The government paid $30 million for land at the site of Sydney’s new airport that was subsequently valued at just $3 million. The government has defended its lack of action on the anti-corruption commission since receiving draft legislation in December. It argues that it has had to deal with the summer bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic:

Attorney-General Christian Porter saying there would need to be a detailed and extensive consultation period before further steps were taken…

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament the government had been too busy with the bushfires and then the coronavirus crisis to advance the idea since then…

Mr Porter said the next stage would be a consultation on the draft “that will be detailed and extensive”…

Labor leader Anthony Albanese seized on the growing scandal involving the federal government’s $30 million payment for a block of land at the new Western Sydney Airport later valued at only $3 million.

It was revealed in Senate hearings on Tuesday that the Australian Federal Police is investigating possible “corruption of public officials” involved in the deal.

No doubt a federal ICAC will go the way of anti-money laundering legislation – subject to never-ending faux consultation and delays.

While the need for an ICAC is clear – as evidenced recently by the Sydney Airport land deal and the sports rorts scandal (among others) – the fact of the matter is that federal politicians do not want an independent body scrutinising every shady deal and potential handing out penalties.

Corruption runs deep across Australia’s political system. Nobody in government wants to rock the boat.

Unconventional Economist
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