The ACT will have a new integrity commission operating from July next year, covering politicians, public servants and government contractors, after more than two years of inquiries and political negotiations came to fruition on Thursday night.
Despite all parties being close to finding common ground on many of the measures proposed in the government's final bill, debate went on into the night on Thursday as MLAs negotiated more than 100 amendments on the floor.
The passage of the bill makes the ACT the final state or territory jurisdiction to create an anti-corruption commission, leaving only the Commonwealth government yet to create a centralised agency to investigate corruption.
Speaker Joy Burch will now begin recruiting a commissioner and chief executive of the new commission, which will have a government-determined budget of about $8 million over four years and is expected to have around 10 staff, including a counsel assisting and an investigative team.
Of the 115 amendments expected to be debated on Thursday, Opposition Leader Alistair Coe brought 94 amendments to the floor, while the government brought 10 largely technical changes and the Greens just one.
Despite the sheer sum of amendments debated, the three parties have spent weeks finding common ground on many issues, including whether the commission should be able to investigate matters previously examined by bodies such as the Auditor-General's office.
Given the lengthy talks, much of the debate centred on technical and legal details, ranging from the potential political history of any statutory appointment to the commission, to whether judges should be given preference over an eminent lawyer of at least 10 years' experience.
For the average Canberran, it means that from July next year, people will have an official body to investigate allegations of corruption involving public servants, politicians, and government contractors, with a focus on serious and systemic cases, and the most serious cases of misconduct.
While Mr Coe brought the bulk of amendments to the floor, after it became clear Labor and the Greens were unlikely to support a series of motions, he decided against unduly delaying the passage of the bill by putting motions destined for defeat.
Among the opposition proposals Labor and the Greens rejected were: the commissioner being able to make official findings of corrupt conduct, avoiding the inspector overseeing the commission in its day to day operations, and the potential to investigate judicial findings where corruption could occur.
The governing parties argued against several such measures on the grounds some could encroach on the separation of powers, human rights and the right to privacy, and their view the inspector should see monthly reports at least for the first few years of the commission's operations.
Mr Coe did succeed in ensuring a review of the commission's work and governing legislation in 2022, and every five years thereafter.
The Opposition Leader also wanted the commission to include the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption's fairly wide definition of corrupt conduct, though he failed to convince Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens leader Shane Rattenbury.
Both Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury argued they did not want the commission to be inundated with frivolous or minor cases of misconduct, which Mr Barr said were better placed with existing bodies, such as the territory's Public Sector Standards Commissioner.
Mr Rattenbury proposed a motion eventually backed by all parties that serious misconduct be included, arguing that bullying in the workplace would not constitute corruption, but bullying to force a certain outcome on a government tender process potentially could.
While some issues could not be resolved during debate, it is expected a further amendment bill will come before the Assembly next year to refine yet more technicalities in the legislation.
Territory MLAs also await the Prime Minister's agreement to change the ACT's Self Government Act, to ensure coverage of ACT Policing, which is contracted out to the territory government by the federal police.
After two years, two inquiries, 115 potential amendments and 13 divisions on the floor, three parties have passed possibly the most significant piece of legislation that will come before the territory's ninth Assembly.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the commission had a budget of $8 million per year.