No matter which party is elected to lead the nation this year, Federal ICAC Now will still be integral in stamping out political corruption, writes Ross Jones.
HAPPY ELECTION YEAR! ‘Tis the season to get even!
The political party Federal ICAC Now, born in this publication in 2020 and now better known as FIN, is getting ready to go.
Having survived the Coalition’s pre-election changes to the Electoral Act with its party status intact, expect to see FIN above the line on the Senate ticket.
FIN is not your usual political party.
For one, it is a single-issue party and that issue is anti-corruption.
FIN is the Australian Electoral Commission-approved acronym for the registered political party Federal ICAC Now.
The establishment of a federal anti-corruption commission is the foundation core of FIN but not its entirety because corruption touches every issue.
It is the start.
FIN will also pursue:
- real-time political donation disclosure;
- a five-year moratorium during which no retiring elected official can be appointed to any government funded position;
- former ministers prohibited from employment in any commercial sector formerly under the authority of that minister or engagement in any lobbying activity regarding any aspect of their previous portfolio(s);
- bans on donations to political parties by corporations, trade unions, lobby groups and other entities; and
- strengthened whistleblower protections.
When elected, FIN parliamentary representative(s) will, regardless of which party forms government, vote on any bill by the following method:
- Every proposal will be closely scrutinised for possible corrupt content. FIN parliamentary staff will be carefully selected and FIN will utilise external consultants to assist in this regard where necessary. If the possibility for corrupt conduct is identified, the bill would be rejected or amendments may be proposed until that possibility is removed.
- If no adverse matters are identified, any proposal would next be considered against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Australia was a signatory when this succinct 30-article Declaration was adopted by the UN in 1948. It remains both relevant and in effect. If the possibility for contravention of the UN Declaration is identified, the bill would be rejected until those contraventions are remedied.
- If these two conditions are satisfied, FIN representatives will refer to the matter to members before a decision is made.
FIN is strictly non-partisan and will not obstruct the legislative agenda of a duly elected government, unless that agenda:
- acts to prevent or impede FIN’s aims; or
- does not meet the voting conditions set out above.
This system provides the guidelines to allow FIN to vote constructively on all issues.
From refugee policy to climate change, from aged care to health care, from jobs to the natural environment, federal political corruption perverts proper policy and makes all Australians worse off.
FIN will work against corruption wherever it finds it.
FIN’s respect for the Declaration of Human Rights will guide us where we don’t.
It doesn’t matter which side of politics you are on, or even if you don’t have a side, if you think political corruption is the number one issue then a vote for Anti-Corruption: 1 and Your Party: 2 is now an option.
The 2022 Election will have one of three outcomes: the Liberal-National Government will hold power; Labor will gain power; or there will be a hung parliament with the possibility of a bastard coalition being formed.
Despite the views of bookies and pollsters, a Labor victory is far from a done deal. The Coalition will have all the might of News Corp behind it and it has a proven track record when it comes to pulling rabbits out of hats.
The Coalition hanging on to power would nix the idea of a meaningful Federal ICAC, at least for the term of the next parliament.
A FIN presence in the Senate will go a long way to slow the inevitable tide of corruption under a fourth-term Coalition Government.
A Labor victory would no doubt bring most of the current scams to a stop but how long before others could begin is anybody’s guess.
An Albanese Labor Government might be squeaky-clean, but any government goes rotten after a while and the Labor Party is a complex web.
Labor is talking a very strong game when it comes to establishing a Federal ICAC.
Labor’s policy seems good on first reading but it has two major omissions.
Firstly, it makes no mention of guaranteed funding.
For an ICAC to work, its funding must be separate from government and guaranteed, otherwise any government can just starve it into impotence whenever it chooses.
Secondly, it is crucial any ICAC is overseen by a bipartisan parliamentary committee. The alternative is an ICAC vulnerable to the government’s will.
Labor’s policy makes no mention of how such a parliamentary committee would be formed or constituted.
The possibility exists that a Labor ICAC would be more oriented to weaponry than justice.
Labor’s proposal would not prevent commissioners on the anti-corruption body from choosing to take action on conduct that occurred before it was set up.
FIN supports an ICAC with retrospective capability, in part because a fresh ICAC set up under Labor would have nothing much else to do for at least six months apart from investigating past Coalition malfeasance, but mainly because we need to understand the real depth of political corruption to create effective defences against it.
A FIN Senate presence in a Labor government will work to ensure any ICAC is properly funded and subject to appropriate oversight.
It will also work to prevent a Labor ICAC from becoming just another political weapon.
As for the third option, if enough Independents get up, or the United Australia Party scores a very unlikely seat, or Labor or the Coalition are forced to do a deal with who knows whom and it’s a bastard coalition in power, FIN will roll with the punches and stick to its knitting — working against corruption.
Investigations editor Ross Jones is a licensed private enquiry agent and the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You can follow Ross on Twitter @RPZJones.
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