The revelation that Scott Morrison secretly had himself appointed to five separate portfolios has triggered widespread outrage, just when the broader question of integrity has been a big political issue.
In this podcast, Michelle Grattan speaks with Independent member for Indi Helen Haines, who has pushed for a national integrity commission. Such a body will soon be legislated by the Albanese government.
Haines strongly condemns Morrison’s behaviour, although she doesn’t see it as the sort of matter that would go to an integrity commission. “It doesn’t appear apparent to me that there are questions here of corruption. But we don’t know really what motivated the prime minister to keep all of this a secret.”
Haines says an Anti-Corruption Commission needs to have the capacity to investigate what has been dubbed “grey” corruption, such as jobs for the boys and pork barrelling.
She argues that “public money being spent for political gain through so-called rorting or pork barrelling is potentially corruption.”
“These bodies are seeking to stamp out corruption and they are seeking to shine a light in dark places. Now, in shining that light, they may well determine that there’s nothing to be seen.
"But on the other hand, they may well find that there are practices which have been accepted as kind of matey and okay that in fact lead to poor governance, that lead to poor public policy, that lead to an erosion of trust in our leaders.”
“There needs to be a pathway that communities can see is fair and just. [So] that if you need a hospital in your electorate (as indeed I do), if you need new roads or a bridge or whatever it might be, that there’s a clear pathway to applying for those funds, putting forward a case, and a legitimate system that shows where you are in the queue to achieving the infrastructure that you need in your community.”
In her maxim for integrity in politics, Haines says politicians need to “be what you want to see.”