Getting ready for the National Anti-Corruption Commission
By Joshua Lickiss, National Anti-Corruption Commission Taskforce
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will start its work in mid-2023. Now is a great time to learn about the Commission and what it means for everyone in the public sector.
Research shows that the Australian public’s trust in their government and public institutions has declined over recent years. Perceptions about potential corruption within government have contributed to this decline in trust. As well as undermining public trust, corruption can involve the misuse of government resources, which means there are less available to provide the services Australians need, such as healthcare, social security, education and national security.
The Australian parliament recently passed laws to establish the NACC to combat corruption in the Commonwealth public sector. The NACC seeks to prevent corruption 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.
The NACC will be able to investigate any person who does 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 also 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, or
- misuse information they have gained in their capacity as a public official.
A ‘public official’ includes Commonwealth ministers, public servants, statutory office holders, Commonwealth entities and companies, parliamentarians and their staff, and contract service providers.
An important element of the NACC legislation is that agency heads and Public Interest Disclosure (PID) officers will have mandatory obligations to refer corruption matters to the Commissioner if they suspect a corruption issue is serious or systemic.
Anyone who refers allegations or information raising corruption issues will be protected. This includes criminal offences for reprisal action, and immunity from criminal, administrative and civil liability. These complement existing protections under the PID framework.
Agencies across the Commonwealth are now preparing for the NACC. One useful tool to help with this is the Commonwealth Integrity Maturity Framework. The Framework will support entities to assess their integrity arrangements and plan for the NACC and other integrity reforms. The framework is available on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity website.
The government expects the NACC to begin operations in mid-2023. Ahead of its commencement, you can read more about the NACC on the Attorney-General’s Department website.