Commonwealth Integrity Commission consultation draft
The Australian Government has committed to establishing a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) to strengthen integrity arrangements across the federal public sector.
The CIC will be a centralised, specialist centre investigating corruption in the public sector. It will be established as an independent statutory agency, led by the Integrity Commissioner and assisted by the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
The draft legislation is the result of detailed planning to ensure the new body has both the resources and powers that it needs to investigate allegations of criminal conduct that could occur across the public sector.
The CIC will have greater investigatory powers than a Royal Commission. These include the ability to:
- hold hearings and compel witnesses to testify
- enter and search premises
- require people to surrender documents and other evidence
- use telecommunication interceptions
- have individuals arrested and confiscate passports.
The Australian Government sought views on the proposed CIC model via a consultation paper, as well as advice from an expert panel that was engaged to advise the government on the reforms.
Find out more about the earlier CIC model consultation.
The Australian Government has considered feedback on the previous consultation paper and has developed draft legislation to establish the new agency. The draft legislation comprises two Bills:
- Commonwealth Integrity Commission Bill 2020 (the draft Bill) – which would establish the CIC.
- Integrity and Anti-Corruption Legislation Amendment (CIC Establishment and Other Measures) Bill 2020 – which would make necessary amendments to various Acts to give effect to the new CIC scheme.
A fact sheet about the key features of the CIC has also been released.
The first phase of the government’s plan for a CIC is already underway. The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity’s (ACLEI) jurisdiction will be expanded from 1 January 2021 to cover four new agencies, and additional funding and staff were allocated to ACLEI in the 2020-21 Budget to undertake those functions. The second phase will be the full delivery of the CIC by legislation, which will subsume ACLEI and cover the remainder of the public sector.
The public sector integrity division will have jurisdiction over the rest of the public sector and other regulated entities. This division will investigate potential criminal corrupt conduct perpetrated by:
- public sector, intelligence agency and Australian Defence Force employees
- the staff of federal judicial officers
- parliamentarians and their staff
- higher education providers and research bodies (in some circumstances).
The government is considering whether the CIC should be given jurisdiction over federal judicial officers. Any model would need to be mindful of the separation of powers in Australia’s system of government, and will need to respect and maintain the independence of the federal courts and judges enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
The government is also continuing to consider the interaction between the CIC and Public Interest Disclosure scheme. This will ensure that public officials who disclose corrupt conduct to the CIC are protected from reprisal action.
Transitional arrangements for the effective operation of the CIC are also being settled. This includes, for example, mechanisms for the transfer of ongoing ACLEI investigations to the CIC, and establishing that the CIC may investigate conduct within jurisdiction that occurred before it commenced.
These will be particular areas for further consultation.
The government is committed to a national comprehensive consultation process on the draft legislation. A series of consultation sessions will be arranged for the law enforcement and public sector groups that would be regulated under the legislation, as well as roundtable meetings with civil society, academia and other stakeholder representatives from all states and territories. These sessions will be held across the consultation period which will run from November 2020 to March 2021.
To ensure the consultation process is COVID-safe, registration will be required for face to face consultation sessions to be held in Canberra. Remote access will also be available by video conference.
Provide a submission
The Australian Government is inviting feedback on the draft legislation and other considerations via written submissions.
Submissions are due by 5pm AEDT on 12 February 2021. Submissions received after this date may not be considered.
Feedback received through the submission process will be used to inform further refinement of the Bills before they are introduced to Parliament.
Note: Allegations of corrupt conduct by Commonwealth officials or agencies should be referred to the relevant agency or the Australian Federal Police.
To promote transparency in the consultation process, we may publish submissions online as appropriate. If you would like your submission published, please indicate this when submitting it. We will not publish your submission without your consent or if we consider (for any reason) that it should not be made public. We may redact parts of published submissions, as appropriate. You can also ask for your submission to be published anonymously.
Where multiple submissions are received that are identical or very similar, a single submission may be published as representative of the campaign, along with an indication of the number of submissions raising the same set of issues that were made as part of the same campaign (noting this will be at the government’s discretion). Submissions that were made as part of a campaign but that raise different issues relevant to the consultation may be considered for separate publication.
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