The Morrison government has played an obvious shell game on the timing of its promised federal anti-corruption body.
Now, just to add another nail into the coffin of this legislation, one of the government's most senior ministers, Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, admitted during Senate estimates that the promise would not be fulfilled before the next election.
Predictably, Senator Cash attempted to shift the blame to the opposition which she claimed was "playing politics" with the proposed bill.
A federal anti-corruption authority is sorely needed but the model flagged by the Morrison government isn't up to scratch. It has been criticised by anti-corruption experts and some of its own backbenchers as insufficient. Labor and the Greens want the watchdog to have greater powers.
Presenting and discussing this bill should have been a priority for this sitting of federal Parliament.
Instead we had the Morrison government hoovering up valuable pre-election sitting time to debate its religious discrimination legislation. As expected, that legislation has hit a Senate roadblock and faces a highly uncertain timetable for any further progression.
Nonetheless, it was Mr Morrison's important pre-election play to the religious right, and a box he needed to tick.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his senior ministers know that a powerful federal anti-corruption body is not going to play well for them.
The robodebt scandal and the millions of porkbarrelled grant dollars channelled through the troubling sports and carpark rorts are just a few of the very embarrassing issues for which the current government would likely face scrutiny over from a fully empowered integrity commission.
And face it they should.
The Prime Minister enjoys waxing lyrical about "true tests of democracy" and the importance of leadership.
Prioritising this watchdog, and ensuring it had the powers to expose all the rorts and underhand deals, was his true test of leadership.
Alan Tudge, the then-infrastructure minister, oversaw the $660 million car park grants scheme, which was announced ahead of the 2019 federal election. Only two of those car parks have been built so far.
With the $100 million sports grants slush fund, Victorian National senator Bridget Mackenzie eventually took the fall but never admitted manipulating public monies to send the grants to clubs and organisations within electorates where the government most needed the voter support.
Her penance was all too brief.
As a big supporter of Barnaby Joyce, she had backed the right horse when the Nationals' deckchairs were reshuffled and she is now back in the ministry.
The federal government has oversight of billions of dollars of taxpayer expenditure.
Explanation, oversight and accountability have been sadly lacking under the Morrison government.
Strategically, it has played out a legislative agenda which best suits its immediate purposes.
Corruption takes many forms and encompasses both the public and private sector. It thrives under the protection of secrecy. The avoidance of public scrutiny makes a mockery of our democracy and must be addressed as a matter of priority, regardless of the federal election outcome.
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