What is the NACC?
The National Anti-Corruption Commission will begin operations on 1 July, 2023
This page replicates the content of a downloadable fact sheet in an accessible format. To download, see NACC downloadable resources.
This page provides a general overview of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (the NACC), and describes the NACC’s purpose, functions and powers under the National Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2022 (NACC Act).
Why do we need the National Anti-Corruption Commission?
Research shows that the Australian public’s trust in their government and public institutions has declined over recent years.
The potential for corruption within government contributes to the decline in trust. Corruption can involve the misuse of government resources, which means there is less available to provide the services Australians need, such as health care, social security, education and national security.
The NACC seeks to prevent corruption in the Commonwealth government by:
- investigating it thoroughly and telling the public about what is discovered, and
- educating the public sector (and the public) on how to prevent it in the future.
What will the NACC do?
The NACC will be an independent agency that will prevent, detect, investigate and report on serious or systemic corruption in the Commonwealth public sector. It will also educate the public service, and the public, about corruption risks and prevention.
The NACC will be independent from government. This means the government will not be able to tell the NACC what to investigate (or what not to investigate), or how to do its job. The NACC will be able to investigate alleged corruption and report on what it finds.
The NACC will be led by a Commissioner and up to three Deputy Commissioners, with support from a Chief Executive Officer.
The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) will become part of the NACC once the NACC is ready to begin its work.
What is corruption?
The NACC will be able to investigate allegations of serious or systemic corrupt conduct in the Australian Government public sector. The terms serious and systemic are not defined under the NACC Act. It will be up to the Commissioner of the NACC to decide whether, in their opinion, a matter could involve serious or systemic corrupt conduct.
Under the NACC Act, the NACC will be able to investigate any person, if they have potentially done something that has or could adversely affect a public official’s honesty or impartiality in the way they carry out their official duties.
The NACC will be able to investigate public officials if they:
- adversely affect their own, or another public official’s honesty or impartiality in the way they carry out their official duties
- breach public trust
- abuse their office as a public official
- misuse information they have gained in their capacity as a public official.
To read more about corrupt conduct, see What is corrupt conduct?
How will the NACC work?
The NACC will investigate corrupt conduct within the Commonwealth public sector
The NACC will investigate allegations of serious or systemic corruption within the Commonwealth public sector. This includes conduct that occurred before or after it was established.
The NACC will have a range of investigative powers, including to:
- enter Commonwealth premises and require Commonwealth information without a warrant
- make people and organisations give the NACC documents and items and allow the NACC to search their property
- conduct private hearings and, if it is in the public interest and exceptional circumstances justify doing so, conduct public hearings
- access a range of covert investigative capabilities, such as intercepting telecommunications.
The NACC is not required or able to investigate every corruption issue, even if they believe it could be serious or systemic. If the NACC decides not to investigate a corruption issue, or believes a corruption issue is not serious or systemic, they may deal with it in other ways – for example, by referring it to another agency to deal with.
The NACC could refer the matter to the Commonwealth agency to which the corruption issue relates, if satisfied that the agency has the appropriate capabilities to investigate it. The NACC could also refer the corruption issue to another Commonwealth agency or state or territory government agency for their consideration. In these cases, the NACC could not direct the agency to take any action in relation to the corruption issue. The NACC may also decide to take no action.
The NACC will work to prevent corruption in the Commonwealth public sector
The NACC will work with Commonwealth agencies to help prevent corruption.
It will do this by:
- raising awareness and providing training to people who work in the Australian Government public sector about preventing, detecting and reporting corruption
- providing corruption prevention and education products based on research and analysis of corruption risks and trends, and
- making recommendations to prevent corruption (including identifying risks and vulnerabilities) based on issues it finds during its investigations.
The NACC will also be able to conduct public inquiries into corruption risks, vulnerabilities and prevention activities in government agencies.
Who can the NACC investigate?
The NACC will investigate alleged corrupt conduct involving Australian Government public officials. Public officials under the NACC Act include:
- Members and senators of the Commonwealth Parliament including ministers, and their staff
- employees and contractors of Commonwealth agencies and Commonwealth companies
- holders of Commonwealth statutory offices.
However, the NACC will also be able to investigate any person, even if they are not a public official, who does something that causes or could cause a public official to carry out their official duties in a dishonest or biased way.
The NACC will only be able to investigate matters relating to Australian Government public officials. It will not be able to investigate concerns about state, territory or local government officials. Each state and territory has a similar integrity or anti-corruption commission that may be able to investigate those matters.
The NACC won’t be able to investigate judges, the Governor-General and Royal Commissioners.
For more information on the definition of ‘public official’, see Who can the NACC investigate?
Who will make sure the NACC does its job properly?
It is important that someone oversees the NACC to make sure it uses its powers appropriately and complies with the law.
The NACC will be overseen by:
- A Parliamentary Joint Committee consisting of parliamentarians from across the Parliament. This committee will review the NACC’s performance and budget. It will also approve the appointments of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners, and Inspector of the NACC.
- An independent Inspector. The Inspector will investigate corruption issues and complaints about the NACC, and also look at how the NACC uses its powers.
When will the NACC start its work?
The NACC will begin operations in mid-2023.
The NACC will receive referrals of corruption issues after it is established
Once the NACC begins its work in mid-2023, it will be able to consider referrals made by anyone. The NACC will provide public guidance on how to make a referral.
In the meantime, the page What is corrupt conduct? may help you understand whether the NACC could investigate an issue you are concerned about.
The Attorney-General’s Department and ACLEI are not able to refer corruption issues to the NACC before it begins operations.
For further information and resources, visit NACC downloadable resources.