Scott Morrison effectively ditches his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption commission

Scott Morrison has effectively abandoned his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption watchdog, confirming he would only proceed with legislation in the new parliament if Labor agreed to pass the Coalition’s heavily criticised proposal without amendments.

Morrison pledged before the 2019 election to legislate a federal integrity body in the parliamentary term that has just ended. The prime minister broke that promise, failing to introduce his own proposal before the 46th parliament was prorogued.

On the hustings on Wednesday, Morrison was asked – given his previous undertaking to create the body – whether he would promise to put his proposal to a vote in the next parliament in the event the Coalition 赢了 21 May election.

Morrison declined to make that promise. “Our position on this hasn’t changed,”总理说. “Our view has been the same – when the Labor party is prepared to support that legislation in that form, then we will proceed with it.”

The prime minister has attempted to inoculate himself from criticism about breaking an election promise by saying he tabled the integrity commission proposal in the parliament.

Tabling an exposure draft, which is what the prime minister did, is not the same as introducing finished legislation to the House of Representatives or the Senate that is then debated and voted on.

As well as repeatedly fudging what happened in parliament, Morrison has also created the impression the proposal can only proceed if Labor agrees to its passage without amendments.

All governments routinely introduce legislation for debate without any undertaking that it will be passed by the opposition. Labor favours a stronger model than the Coalition’s proposal.

Morrison’s lack of urgency on the issue created tensions within government ranks. Late last year, the Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer crossed the floor to support independent MP Helen Haines’ bill to establish a federal integrity commission. Archer accused the government of “inertia” over the issue.

那时候, Archer said she was “perplexed” at her own government’s failure to release a revised bill almost three years after it was promised before the last election.

While Morrison clearly wants to move on from the issue, he will face renewed pressure from crossbench independents if the coming election is close enough to deliver a hung parliament.

A number of independents running against Liberals in metropolitan seats have made it clear that establishing a credible national integrity commission will be a key demand in the event any new government – Liberal or Labor – is seeking agreements for confidence and supply.

Haines blasted Morrison’s comments on Wednesday. “Mr Morrison broke an election promise to introduce an anti-corruption commission and his pathway to creating one is still as vague as it was in the last parliament,“ 她说.

The crossbench independent said it was “nonsense” for the prime minister to claim that he could not proceed unless Labor agreed with the Coalition’s proposal without seeking any amendments. “It would appear we are in the same void as we were before,” Haines said.

Rex Patrick, who is attempting to hold his current South Australian Senate spot, said if voters returned him to parliament he would reintroduce Haines’s bill in the upper house.

“The prime minister had three years to move on this yet he never actually introduced his bill into the parliament,” Patrick said. “He always knew it was a political fraud that wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.”

Patrick said Morrison’s comments on Wednesday were “perhaps a rare expression of honesty – he really has no interest in a federal independent commission against corruption and only wants to shift blame on to others for that failure”.

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