Former Liberal minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has criticised the government's proposed integrity body for being too weak and taken aim at one of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's closest allies in a speech in parliament.
Falling public trust was because of the scandals that politicians were themselves responsible for, the senator for NSW said.
"Repeatedly, politicians from local, state and federal ranks have acted without integrity and contributed to the ongoing and deteriorating perception of the body politic," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.
The senator said she shared views from the community that a better National Integrity Commission was needed than the one proposed by the government.
The proposed commission was too reliant on the party political machinery to take action against politicians and their staff, she said.
The government's draft plan includes a two-tier system that allows parliamentarians and their staff to escape scrutiny of public hearings.
The role of such a body needs to uncover and expose corruption publicly like state anti-corruption bodies have done, the senator said, including the power the force people to answer questions which may incriminate them.
That system was often seen to protect wrongdoing, she said, where the political public relations concerns outweigh the importance of openness, truth and integrity.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells cited branch stacking claims involving the seat of government minister Alex Hawke, an ally of the prime minister, as an example of party machinery protecting wrongdoing.
"More than two years have passed since the formal complaints and statutory declarations were submitted to the party headquarters and to his prime minister, the allegations of record tampering and the MPs role are still to be resolved," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.
"The party machine in this instance seems unable or unwilling to make a judgement as to integrity."
The public airing follows a series of counter-claims between the NSW Liberals' soft and hard right factions.
The NSW Liberal party headquarters denied in 2020 that there was any internal investigation, saying reports were without fact.
The lack of an investigation in NSW and the glacial speed of the national integrity body legislation is understood to have frustrated Senator Fierravanti-Wells.
The senator said preselection integrity flaws were "real and problematic" and politicians had been elected having been "less than truthful to their preselectors and in turn been elected on the basis of falsehoods".
The speech did not name Mr Hawke, who is also a member of the NSW branch of the Liberal party, so as to not breach party rules.
Mr Hawke's office declined to comment on the speech.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells, who was a minister in the Turnbull government, said ministers should also face security vetting as there are no further checks once politicians are elected.
The government and Labor voted against a bill by Senator Rex Patrick in 2019 to require ASIO vetting of ministers, citing the special role of elected parliamentarians being chosen by the public.
"It's a classic case of one rule for the political elite, and one rule for everyone else," Senator Patrick said.
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