The Centre for Public Integrity has compared Australia’s regulation of federal MPs with that of the UK, Canada and New Zealand, and has found it to be considerably weaker.
The Centre contends this is due to the failure of Australia to adopt a parliamentary code of conduct for federal MPs. It wants Australia to implement a parliamentary code of conduct with strict, enforceable anti-corruption laws.
The Centre notes that teachers, nurses and teachers are subject to codes of conduct, so there is no reason why federal MPs should not be:
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[Australia] has no system to regulate the ethics of ministerial staffers.
The only formal regulation of ethics in Australia’s parliament is achieved through the ministerial standards. But the standards do not apply to MPs more broadly, are a collection of principles rather than a comprehensive set of rules, and are enforced at the whim of the prime minister, rather than any independent body.
Despite promising to do so, the federal government has also failed to implement a National Integrity Commission (NIC) to investigate corruption across the federal bureaucracy. This comes despite similar authorities existing across Australia’s state governments and a NIC having explicit backing from Transparency International and the Centre for Public Integrity.
Clearly, the Morrison Government doesn’t want independent bodies and codes of conduct that would prevent shady deals from happening and potentially handing out penalties for politicians involved in scandals like the Sydney Airport land deal, the sports rorts scandal, or the car parks scandal. Accountability is not in its interest.
The same can be said about anti-money laundering legislation pertaining to property, which has been in limbo for 14 years and subject to never-ending faux consultation and delays.