National Integrity Commission Bill Introduced to Federal Parliament

Thursday 29 November 2018 @ 3.12 p.m. | Legal Research

The National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (Cth) (the “Bill”) was introduced to the House of Representatives on 26 November 2018, by Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan MP

The Bill proposes to amend the following pieces of Commonwealth legislation:

  • Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006;
  • Ombudsman Act 1976
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.


According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (the “EM’), the Bill:

“ … is part of a package of bills to promote public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament, the public sector and the system of Government. This package is about creating a culture of integrity, a pro-active and solutions focused approach to preventing corruption … Rather than simply focusing on publicly naming and shaming, the objective of this package is to create a national culture of integrity, where the expectation is that ‘we be our best selves’.”

The Explanatory Memorandum states that the Commission will build on the expertise and strengths of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (“ACLEI”) and best practice from within the integrity framework of other jurisdictions.

Object of the Bill

The aim of this Private Member's Bill is to establish the Australian National Integrity Commission (the “Commission”) as an independent, broad-based public sector anti-corruption commission for the Commonwealth. The principles of the Commission are to promote integrity and accountability, prevent, investigate and expose corruption, support development and implementation of a national integrity and anti-corruption plan, improve co-ordination and efficiency in the Commonwealth integrity system, and ensure protection of whistleblowers.

The Bill's Explanatory Memorandum says that it:

"incorporates aspects and builds on the work of others, including:

  • the options presented by the Transparency International Australia / Griffith University-led Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Strengthening Australia’s National Integrity System: Priorities for Reform;
  • the Report of the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission (2017);
  • the recommendations of the Australia Institute’s National Integrity Committee;
  • the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Recommended Benchmarks for Codes of Conduct applying to Members of Parliament (2015); and
  • the Australian Greens Bill, of the same name (first introduced to the Parliament in 2012)."

The intention of the Bill will be to create a nationally coordinated integrity framework, with an emphasis on prevention, supported by strong powers of investigation to enable criminal charges or other actions in response to cases of corruption.

Accountability of the Commission

The Parliamentary Joint Committee (to be assisted by a Parliamentary Inspector of the National Integrity Commission) will provide oversight of the Commission to ensure compliance with the law, due process and standards of probity. It will also be subject to judicial review by the Federal and High Courts of Australia.

Powers of the Commission

The Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum states:

“The Commission will have a broad jurisdiction over official corruption including federal politicians and the federal public sector and promote responsible business conduct in the private sector … federal judicial officers under Chapter III of the Constitution are not included and the Bill establishes a review process to ensure their inclusion in a robust system of integrity oversight … The National Integrity Commissioner must be a judge or a retired judge.”

It is proposed the Commission will have the powers of a Royal Commission to investigate (where necessary), "corruption issues involving or affecting the Commonwealth Government, to be executed at the discretion of the Commissioner".

Protection for Whistleblowers

The Commission also proposes to include a Whistleblower Protection Commissioner, with the intent to deliver the Commission’s public advice and referral functions and partner with the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Australian Securities & Investments Commission (“ASIC”). It will act as the whistleblower protection authority for the Commonwealth public sector and Commonwealth-regulated private and not-for-profit sectors, as recommended by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.

Similar Bill Introduced into the Senate

On 29 November, Senator Larissa Waters from the Greens introduced the National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (No. 2) into the Senate.  As outlined in the Bill's Explanatory Memorandum:

"This version of the National Integrity Bill, to be introduced in the Senate, is drafted using a bill of the same name introduced by Cathy McGowan MP in the House of Representatives with two major changes, namely to refine the definition of corrupt conduct and to limit investigations of corrupt conduct to the last ten years."

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Media Release: Cathy to introduce National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (Cathy McGowan MP, 23 November 2018)

National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (Cth) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (No. 2) (Cth) -  Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

Related Articles: