Fact sheet

Fact Check: Mark Dreyfus says the government's anti-corruption commission legislation honours its election commitment 'in both form and substance'. Is that correct?

Corruption Political corruption Legislation Australia

In opposition, Labor vowed to deliver on a key election commitment where the Coalition had so far failed: establishing a national anti-corruption commission. In September, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus introduced legislation to establish the National Anti-Corruption Commission telling parliament the bill represented a fulfilment of Labor's election promise. "Labor told Australians that if we were elected we would legislate a National Anti-Corruption Commission this year," he said. "Today we honour that commitment."

"[The bill] honours our commitment to Australians in both form and substance."

Labor didn't simply promise to establish an anti-corruption body. Rather, its election platform pledged to legislate a "powerful, transparent and independent" commission.

Prior to the election, Labor committed to seven "design principles" of the NACC. Furthermore, it promised the NACC would have the "independence, resources and powers" of a standing royal commission. Legal experts contacted by Fact Check agreed that six of Labor's design principles relating to jurisdiction, oversight mechanisms and reporting were reflected in Labor's bill. They also noted the NACC bill was similar to a standing royal commission in terms of its independence and many coercive powers of investigation.

However, the bill's inclusion of an "exceptional circumstances" test in order to hold public hearings in addition to a "public interest" test left experts divided over whether Labor had fulfilled its commitments in relation to public hearings in the design principles. And when compared to a royal commission, experts told Fact Check Labor's proposed commission would have lesser powers to hold public hearings. In addition, in relation to resourcing, some recent single-issue royal commission budgets exceed the proposed annual budget of the NACC.

Verdict: Mr Dreyfus's claim is in the ballpark.

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