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Australia’s leaders divided on anti-corruption protocols | ticker VIEWS



Australia’s leaders divided over to anti-corruption investigation protocols

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has slammed the design of the New South Wales independent anti-Corruption investigation unit. He says it’s a flawed model that has damaged innocent people. This follows conflicting protocols that force leaders to step aside while being investigated.

Leader’s divided

On Friday, now-former Premier of Australia’s most populous state, Gladys Berejiklian resigned, amid a corruption scandal. The independent body (ICAC) who is conducting the investigation requires anyone involved to step down while it takes place.

Dominic Perreottet is now the Premier of New South Wales and has stepped in to guide the state through a critical time in its Covid-19 pandemic.

Premier for Melbourne and the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews is now involved in his own Anti-Corruption Commission investigation but refuses to step aside, and questions have emerged about the conflicting rules and protocols for Australian leaders who are caught up in these kinds of investigations.

Mr Andrews is being investigated by The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission in Victoria, over favourable dealings with the United Firefighters Union, in 2014.

The inquiry is dubbed Operation Richmond and is questioning witnesses in secret hearings.

Protocols change at the border

Victorian investigators, operate in private and have to meet a higher threshold before they confirm inquiries. The major difference between the two cases for the leaders is transparency.

In New South Wales, the corruption case is well known and Berejiklian gave evidence in a hearing in late 2020.

In Melbourne, the exact nature and extent of the probe have not been identified.

Should the protocols be the same for each leader?

“If he [Dan Andrews] is being investigated… he needs to be standing aside.” 

David Davis, Victorian Opposition Legislative Council

Calls for a National Watchdog

Australia’s Prime Minister has condemned the treatment of Berejiklian, arguing the system assumes people are guilty before proven they’re proven to be innocent.

With many politicians and analysts now calling for a watchdog at the Federal level as well. But, the Prime Minister has pushed back against this idea.

“We know that a strong watchdog and a spotlight beaming upon the conduct of Government Ministers…

ensure that you’re going to get a better quality of Government… it is a deterrent to corruption.”

Stephen Jones, Australian Shadow Financial Services Minister 

“The reason politicians are so scared of the NSW anti-corruption watchdog, is that it’s so effective.”

Ben O’Quist, The Australia Institute

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