Voters overwhelmingly want a federal anti-corruption watchdog which can hold public hearings and investigate whistleblower complaints, new polling has revealed, amid calls for the Prime Minister to explain a nearly three-year delay in a watchdog's establishment.
New polling within four federal electorates has shown a national integrity body has strong support across the political spectrum.
The data's release coincides with the passing of 1000 days since Prime Minister Scott Morrison first made an election promise to establish an integrity body.
Member for Indi Helen Haines said Mr Morrison owed the Australian public an explanation for his broken election promise.
Respondents to the Australia Institute-commissioned survey within Liberal-held seats in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and north-western Tasmania clearly supported the setting up of a new body, with 90 per cent of those surveyed in the electorate of Bennelong getting behind the proposal.
It also showed between 70 and 85 per cent of respondents also backed public hearings and investigations sparked by whistleblowers.
Dr Helen Haines, who introduced a bill to establish such a body in October last year, said government expenditure had grown exponentially throughout the ongoing COVID crisis, and oversight was needed now more than ever.
"We've had a period where governments have asked the people for more trust in them than ever before," Dr Haines said.
"In return, the government can't stay true to a promise on integrity."
Last week, Dr Haines moved to suspend standing orders in Parliament in order to force debate over the establishment of an integrity body.
While the motion was seconded by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and backed by Greens leader Adam Bandt, the government ultimately voted it down.
Dr Haines said the commission was needed so government integrity scandals, such as the recent sports and car park rorts, were tied to consequences.
"We see reports coming from the Auditor-General calling out things like car park rorts, and then it goes nowhere because there is nowhere for it to go," she said.
"There is a way forward for the government on this.
"[The Morrison government] is choosing not to take that way forward, and [it's] choosing really to break an election promise instead."
Former attorney-general Christian Porter introduced a draft bill in late 2020, which was criticised for proposing a two-tiered system with different requirements for law enforcement and parliamentarians.
It was also slammed for offering no mechanism to allow for public-sector whistleblowers.
The draft bill underwent further consultation between November 2020 and March this year, but is yet to be introduced to Parliament.
Instead, Dr Haines' proposed body would allow public hearings when appropriate and members of the public would be given the opportunity to refer concerns to the body.
Mr Morrison needed to give taxpayers an explanation for his inaction on the 2018 promise, Dr Haines said.
"You could only be left with one conclusion and that is that [the government] don't want to do it, and they don't want to do it because they're afraid of what it might show, what it might reveal," she said.
"The Prime Minister really needs to explain why it is that he is resisting this so strongly, and resisting it in a way that's most disingenuous - and that's to actually do no work on it."
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