Labor's leading lawyer has promised a tough, transparent anti-corruption body Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be "terrified" of if the opposition won the next election.
The party's legal affairs spokesperson Mark Dreyfus said the growing number of funding scandals brought to the public's attention in recent years showed it was time for a national anti-corruption commission.
It comes as this week marked more than 1000 days since Mr Morrison promised he would deliver an integrity watchdog in the lead-up to the 2019 election.
The Auditor-General has delivered a number of reports during that period, highlighting questionable decisions made by the government over funding grants the opposition have labelled as rorts.
The former Gillard-Rudd government attorney-general said the Prime Minister had thrown a cloak over transparent processes during the pandemic.
"Scott Morrison has been the most secretive prime minister that anyone can remember," Mr Dreyfus told The Canberra Times.
Former attorney-general Christian Porter released the government's proposed model for a Commonwealth integrity commission in late 2020 to much criticism by transparency experts.
Under the proposal, corruption complaints could only be referred by department heads and parliamentarians.
Hearings would also be held in private and investigations could not look into corruption suspicions dated before the body was established.
Mr Dreyfus said the Coalition's model made a mockery of integrity.
"That makes a nonsense of independence, that makes a nonsense of setting up an anti-corruption commission in the first place," he said.
"It's got to be independent. It's got to be transparent and it's got to have power to follow through so that when a complaint is made to it, it can look into things."
He promised, if elected, Labor's model would be one with teeth and one that would be established within its first term.
Hearings could be publicly held, public and whistleblower referrals would be possible and systemic corruption - not just potential serious criminal conduct - could be investigated retrospectively.
Despite being in opposition for eight years, Mr Dreyfus remains an optimist.
One benefit of being the last jurisdiction in the country to have its own integrity body means you can learn from the state and territory models what has and hasn't worked.
"I think we will optimise our design as a result of being able to look at the experience of states and territories, some of whom have had an anti-corruption body for over 30 years," he said.
The audit office's look into a series of funding grants programs has revealed government processes aren't always followed.
Audit reports into grants programs for sports clubs, community clubs and commuter car parks have shown ministers had overlooked department recommendations in some cases, instead funding projects in marginal electorates
While the audit office's work has shed light on these scandals, the government responded by reducing its funding during the 2019-20 budget.
It's since received more funding in the most recent budget but some in Mr Dreyfus' own party have called the cuts "revenge for sports rorts".
While independence is a point the former barrister wants to make, he concedes there are no plans to remove the government of the day's role in deciding funding for the integrity body.
"Ultimately, there's only a political penalty," Mr Dreyfus said.
"There's no mechanism that you can legislate that guarantees funding.
"But Labor's got a long standing commitment to properly funding accountability bodies, and this would be no exception.
"And we will cop the political criticism that we would deserve, if we don't properly resource it."
An anti-corruption commission won't completely stamp out corruption in Parliament or the bureaucracy at large but it could work as an effective deterrent.
Even if ministers and senior public servants never face consequences for any integrity body findings, the political penalty, as Mr Dreyfus said, would be enough.
"Simply knowing that your conduct as a senior public servant, or your conduct as a minister, has the potential to be investigated by an independent anti-corruption commission, I think improves the quality of decision-making," he said.