According to the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), over 70 public servants were found to have participated in corruption activities last year with 72 of public servants having broken the code of conduct. Nepotism and cronyism were two of the most common corruption activities reported. Other than that, theft and fraud were also discovered in the investigation. Small cases of corruption also included credit card misuse, abuse of the leaves, medical certificate abuse, and cheating on time sheets.
Due to the report of these corruption acts, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was put under fire. Amidst the corruption complaints, Prime Minister Morrison stated that his administration was totally against corruption and is not against putting an anti-corruption investigation program in the government. In light of that, he also mentioned that the issue was a propaganda tool used by the opposition to give the government a bad reputation.
With this, Attorney General Christian Porter has also mentioned that he will contribute to strengthening the anti-corruption program in the government. He has already been crafting a proposal on how to further make the federal anti-corruption framework more solid. He mentioned that there were already 13 agencies that have been working on government corruption investigation.
While corruption investigation was put in a high priority, Attorney-General Porter mentioned that it was not one of the highest priorities of the government as of the time being. During the reign of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, he and Attorney General Porter had planned to make a brand new anti-corruption commission. However, shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus stated that the plans weren’t pushed ever since Morrison stepped into power. Shadow attorney general Dreyfus questioned the current government as to what happened to those plans and why it wasn’t escalated for public discussion or any type of implementation.
He continued that Australia deserved to have a national integrity commission in order to address the falling rate of trust in public institutions. That way, a check and balance can be done so that no one abuses the power that comes with government and federal positions. In response, Prime Minister Morrison stated on Monday that the government is open to proposals on creating the integrity commission. Prime Minister Morrison mentioned that he is open to new ideas regarding the creation of the new commission and would consider the best ideas moving forward.
Shadow attorney-general emphasized how important public perception of integrity is, which is why he keeps on pushing for the new commission.
The data regarding corruption activities presented by the APSC shows that only a small number of employees are involved. What the data shows is not the actual cases of corruption, but rather the employee perceptions of corruption in the government, whether big cases or small cases. The data also shows that over 4000 federal public servants have stated that they witnessed corruption practices being done in a year. This in itself shows a part of the public perception of corruption in the government.