24 May 2012

In most jurisdictions, politics seems to bring out the worst in politicians! The Auditor General’s inquiry announced yesterday into the Liu citizenship award in 2008 is unlikely to reflect well on New Zealand politicians. Some part of Australian politics always seems to be in a corruption spotlight. A consequence perhaps is the support by moves by the Greens parties in both countries to introduce a national anti corruption agency.

In the Federal Parliament, the unedifying circumstances which led to the Speaker standing down and another government member moving, under corruption allegations, to the cross benches has encouraged the Greens to promote legislation for an integrity commissioner and an anti corruption agency. Senator Xenophon – an independent – has indicated support for the legislation. He has criticised the Federal Government’s promotion of an MPs’ code of conduct as a “sideshow” compared with the importance of a national ICAC to cover MPs and public servants. In New Zealand proposals for MPs code of conduct has never had much support on either side of the House.

Senator Xenophon said he would aim to have legislation introduced next month. The Leader of the Opposition has indicated that the bill will not be supported.

Any national ICAC will extend the impact of similar agencies in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. The introduction of an equivalent body in Victoria – the Independent Body Against Corruption – remains bogged down nearly a year after the planned commencement. In South Australia ICAC legislation, opposed by the Government, is part of the way to enactment .

Several bloggers regularly advocate the necessity of an ICAC-equivalent if New Zealand is to lessen the instances of corruption.