It took until the second last sitting week for the federal government to admit it would break an election promise: a federal anti-corruption watchdog would not arrive before the May 21 poll.
Every state and territory has managed to implement their own version, but a Commonwealth equivalent remains elusive despite its popularity among Australians.
After three years dogged by scandals - including the sports rorts and carpark rorts sagas - Labor and a group of crossbenchers are demanding a federal watchdog "with teeth".
But the Coalition seized on the demise of popular former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to warn NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption is destroying reputations before corruption is uncovered.
And as a slew of independents make it a centrepiece of their campaign, integrity in politics could be a major factor in who takes power - particularly if negotiation with the crossbench is required.
So what is the government's stalled proposal, and how does it differ from Labor and the crossbench?
The federal government's model - the Commonwealth Integrity Commission - was unveiled in 2020 by then Attorney-General Christian Porter, and is divided into two halves: one for law enforcement, the other for politicians and public servants.
While hearings into law enforcement would be conducted in the open, hearings into corruption allegations against politicians, their staff, and public servants would be held in private.
The public would only be made aware of them if they resulted in a referral for prosecution, meaning Gladys Berejiklian's testimony before ICAC would still be under wraps.
The CIC would only be able to investigate based on a narrow interpretation of corruption, defined as conduct rising to the level of criminality. It would be able to refer criminal conduct to police, but unable to publish findings of corrupt conduct.
The watchdog would only take referrals from other agencies, and would be unable to commence an investigation based on a tip-off from a community member. Public service whistleblowers would need concrete evidence of a crime to prompt the commission to investigate.
A key difference in Labor's proposal is its ability to launch investigations on its own initiative, or off the back of a tip-off from the public.
It would have "follow the money" powers - allowing it to investigate individuals or companies whose involvement in serious corruption was uncovered during an initial probe.
Hearings for public hearings could be public if in the public interest, and would be able to explore "serious and systemic corruption" which occurred before the watchdog was established.
It could publicly release a finding of corrupt conduct, but couldn't determine whether a crime had been committed - that would still be up to law enforcement.
The watchdog would be overseen by a committee of MPs from both parties. In a bid to avoid it becoming politicised, the committee would also have a say in who the Commissioner would be. The Commission would only serve a single fixed term.
Independent MP Helen Haines says her model strikes a balance between a need for public scrutiny, and concerns over reputational damage.
Under her proposal, the commission would be able to initiate its own investigations, take referrals from members of the public, and delve into cases from the past.
The watchdog would hold hearings in public and would be empowered to make findings of fact, rather than just findings of criminal conduct. That could mean a politician found to have engaged in pork-barrelling - which is not always illegal - would be outed.
But where a person's reputation was found to have been unfairly damaged by a public hearing, the commission would publish a report exonerating them.
The proposal is endorsed by a number of crossbenchers, but the government blocked attempts to debate it in parliament.
Finn McHugh has been federal political reporter for The Canberra Times since July 2021. He joined the Canberra Press Gallery in 2019 where he was executive producer of Sky News's AM Agenda, before joining NCA NewsWire as a federal political reporter. He has previously interned at the Kuwait Times.
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