Tony Fitzgerald Warns Of Abuse Of Power In Queensland

Tony Fitzgerald, the man who led the inquiry into corruption in Queensland’s Bjelke-Petersen government in the 1980s, has issued a statement warning against the abuse of power and describing Queensland today as “effectively a single-party State”.

FitzgeraldFitzgerald, a former judge of the Federal Court of Australia, said the first term of Campbell Newman’s government has seen attacks on the judiciary and judicial independence, emasculation of the anti-corruption commission, and interference with the electoral system.

The Liberal National Party government has “confirmed the critical importance of adequate checks and balances”, Fitzgerald says.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry of the 1980s contributed to the resignation of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the jailing of Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, and the resignation and jailing of several Cabinet ministers.

Text of statement issued by Tony Fitzgerald.

Statement from Tony Fitzgerald

Queensland is extremely vulnerable to the misuse and abuse of power. There are almost no constitututional limits on the power of the State’s single house of parliament. Unless there is an effective parliamentary opposition to advocate alternative policies, criticise government errors, denounce excesses of power and reflect, inform and influence public opinion, the checks and balances needed for democracy are entirely missing. [Read more…]


Abbott Government Establishes Royal Commission Into Union Corruption

The Abbott government has established a Royal Commission into union governance and corruption.

The announcement, anticipated over recent weeks, was made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis at a press conference in Canberra.

Abbott

The Royal Commission will be headed by former High Court Justice John Dyson Heydon. [Read more…]


Rudd Announces Federal ALP Intervention To Clean Up Corruption In NSW Branch

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that the Federal ALP will intervene in the NSW branch of the party in order to establish rules to clean up corruption.

The 30-day intervention will produce new party rules which will exclude property developers from contesting ALP preselections. It will ensure that party members under suspicion of corrupt behaviour are suspended by the party. [Read more…]


John Faulkner Calls For Better Governance Of Parliament, Public Service And The ALP

Senator John Faulkner has delivered a wide-ranging speech on political integrity and called for reforms to the parliament, public service, political parties and election funding.

John FaulknerFaulkner spoke at a conference at the University of Melbourne. He called for finalisation of the National Anti Corruption Plan, legislation protecting public interest disclosure, the introduction of a Code of Conduct for MPs, the Commonwealth to support the Open Government Partnership, electoral funding reform and improved accountability witin political parties.

Faulkner also offered a plan to improve democracy and integrity in the ALP. He proposed that party rules be subject to the courts and that all party disputes in NSW should be taken out of the hands of bodies controlled by factions. He called for rank-and-file preselection ballots for Senate and Legislative Council positions, a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy for party members found guilty of corruption, and a Charter of Rights for members.

Transcript of Senator John Faulkner’s speech to the Integrity In Government Conference at the University of Melbourne Law School.

Political Integrity: The Parliament, the Public Service, and the Parties

No-one ever argues that governments should have less integrity, that elected officials should not be accountable, or that public servants should behave unethically. Broad statements of the value of integrity, transparency, accountability and ethics gain general agreement from all sides of politics and from all participants in public debate.

But government integrity demands more than general expressions of goodwill. Enhancing transparency and accountability requires supportive structures as well as declarations of priorities. And cultivating ethical behaviour needs more than simple, sweeping statements of expectations.

Nor is integrity in government and in politics simply a declaration of the importance of individuals behaving ethically.

Of course, they should behave ethically. But, ladies and gentlemen, human nature is variable, and fallible. Individuals do, from time to time, succumb to temptation or fall into error. As the eminent thinker, French renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne said more than four hundred years ago, “There is no man so good that if he placed all his actions and thought under the scrutiny of the laws, he would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.” [Read more…]