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    Corruption can take many forms, and can distort how public policy is made or implemented. This article discusses the responsibilities of the various agencies involved in combating corruption in Australia. While Australia is a wealthy democracy, over the decade since 2012, Australia's ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International has slipped from 7th place in 2012 to 18th in 2022 on a scale where a more honest public sector receives a lower rank (that is, the scale indicates that Australia has become more corrupt over the last decade). Additionally, there is a public perception that corruption in Australia is increasing. All states have broad-based anti-corruption agencies, and a national anti-corruption commission has been legislated by the Commonwealth government, and is to be put in place by mid-2023.[1]

    Protections for whistleblowers are weak in Australia,[2] although greater protections have been pledged by the incumbent Albanese government.[3]

    National anti-corruption commission[edit]

    History and early proposals[edit]

    Australian Greens leader Bob Brown called on the Rudd Government in 2009 to establish an integrity commission.[4] In January 2018, Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), promised to establish a federal integrity body if elected.[5] Under public pressure, prime minster Scott Morrison promised to create a federal anti-corruption body if the Liberal-National Coalition won the 2019 election.[6] However, the Morrison government did not introduce any legislation in Parliament to introduce such a body.[7] A bill produced by Independent Helen Haines to introduce a federal anti-corruption body was blocked in Parliament by the Coalition in November 2021.[8] The creation of a federal anti-corruption body was not part of the Morrison government's agenda during the 2022 election campaign.[9]


    During the 2022 election campaign, the ALP, now under the leadership of Anthony Albanese, promised to establish the national anti-corruption commission (NACC) if they were elected.[10] In November 2022, the Albanese government passed legislation to establish the NACC, which is expected to be operational by mid-2023.[11][12]

    Anti-corruption agencies by state[edit]

    Independent Commission Against Corruption (New South Wales)[edit]

    Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established in 1989 to improve the integrity of the public service. ICAC is an independent body that is non-political, and that doesn't have a government minister in charge of its operations. ICAC holds a large amount of investigative powers including listening devices and telephone interception.[13] ICAC holds both private and public hearings, and has the discretion to choose either option.

    Crime & Corruption Commission (Queensland)[edit]

    The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) is an independent statutory body that investigates and aims to reduce the amount of corruption across the public sector. It also investigates other serious crime including money laundering, fraud and homicide. Its powers include the ability to call witnesses to hearings, and require individuals to produce evidence.[14] The CCC can give recommendations to courts, but cannot charge individuals with corruptions or crimes. It was established on 1 January 2002.

    Integrity Commission (Tasmania)[edit]

    The Integrity Commission is an independent statutory body which was established in 2010. It was created to ensure integrity in the public service and reduce corruption within Tasmania. Reports have found the Tasmanian Integrity Commission to have major flaws in its design due to none of its investigations using their full powers in an investigation.[15]

    Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (Victoria)[edit]

    The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is the key body that investigates corruption within Victoria. It was established in July 2012. The commission is designed to investigate corruption in the public service such as councils, parliament, the judiciary and other government bodies. The Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has a large range of powers similar to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption such as interception of telecommunication devices and asking people to produce evidence or to speak at hearings.[16]

    Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Northern Territory)[edit]

    The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Northern Territory) was established in 2018.

    Corruption and Crime Commission (Western Australia)[edit]

    The Corruption and Crime Commission was established in Western Australia in 2004.

    Independent Commission Against Corruption (South Australia)[edit]

    The Independent Commission Against Corruption (South Australia) was established in 2013.

    Notable corruption cases[edit]

    Eddie Obeid[edit]

    Eddie Obeid is a former Australian politician who was embroiled in a corruption investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. In 2013, ICAC found that Eddie Obeid lobbied his friend Steve Dunn to secure favourable leasing conditions for cafes at Circular Quay, Sydney. The investigation also found that Eddie Obeid used his position as Government MP to alter mining tenements in the Bylong Valley. Eddie Obeid was jailed for 5 years in late 2016, and could apply for parole in 3 years.[17]

    Wood Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service[edit]

    The Wood Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service uncovered large scale corruption within the NSW Police Service. The royal commission went between 1995 and 1997, and ultimately led to the conviction of dozens of police officers. The Wood Royal Commission concluded that “systemic and entrenched corruption” was prevalent in the NSW Police Force.[18] The impact of the royal commission led to cultural changes in the police organisation and stronger oversight on the dealing of police officers.

    Barry O'Farrell[edit]

    In 2014, Barry O'Farrell, the premier of New South Wales, accepted a $3,000 bottle of Penfolds Grange wine from Nick Di Girolamo, a chief executive of Australian Water Holdings (AWH). O'Farrell failed to disclose the gift, which is required by law in the state of New South Wales to prevent corruption. He was questioned by Independent Commission Against Corruption, but O'Farrell said he could not remember receiving it, despite evidence to the contrary. Due to unintentionally misleading an ICAC investigation, he was forced to resign as premier in April 2014.[19]

    Rankings and research[edit]

    In 2012, there was little evidence of corruption in Australia.[20] Corruption in Australia was relatively uncommon when compared to other nations worldwide. Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries according to the perceived corruption of the public sector and then ranks those countries by their score—that is, a high score earns a low rank and signals a perception of an honest public sector.[21] The 2012 Index gave Australia a score of 85/100, which ranked it in 7th place out of 176 countries,[22] although a corruption law expert warned that the Index gave an incomplete picture because it ignored corrupt dealings between Australia and foreign countries.[23]

    Unfortunately, according to this same index, the perception of corruption in the Australian public sector has been increasing since 2012. In the 2015 Index Australia ranked 13th, dropping six positions since 2012.[24][25] Transparency International described Australia's score of 77 in the 2020 Index as a 'significant decliner', having fallen eight points since 2012,[26] and called Australia's score of 73 in the 2021 Index 'one of the world’s most significant decliners, having dropped 12 points since 2012 to hit a record low this year. Its deteriorating score indicates systemic failings in tackling public sector corruption.'[27]

    The phenomenon has also been studied by the Australian National University, which produced a report called Perceptions of Corruption and Ethical Conduct (2012), which concluded: 'there is a widespread perception that corruption in Australia has increased' and that 'the media, trade unions and political parties were seen as Australia's most corrupt institutions'.[28]

    Research published in 2015 by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand found government and private firms in Australia and nearby New Zealand both display widespread 'complacent' attitudes about corruption, particularly in regards to companies bidding for government contracts.[29]

    In January 2018, a discussion paper published by the Australia Institute, suggested that the trust in the Australian government is at a historical low, which could have reduced the GDP by as much as 4% or $72.3 billion.[25]

    A report by Australian Public Service Commission's released in 2018, stated that investigations were conducted in only 0.3% of the workforce, meaning a total of 596 employees.[30]

    International comparison[edit]

    Australia's score of 73 in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index remains well above the global average score of 43 and ranks the country at 18th of the 180 countries in that year's Index.[31] Australia's nearest neighbour New Zealand scored 88 and was ranked 1st in the 2021 Index.[32]

    Some of Australia's smaller neighbours are making steps towards establishing Independent Commissions Against Corruption, with Papua New Guinea recently voting unanimously to set up an Independent Commission Against Corruption.[33] Another small neighbour, the Solomon Islands recently appointed its first Director General for its Independent Commission against Corruption.[34]


    Australia has asserted a strong record of global, regional and domestic action to prevent and expose corrupt activity. These include the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group and the United Nations Convention against Corruption Working Groups.[35]

    Most Australians regard the acceptance of luxury gifts by Australian politicians to be a form of corruption through bribery.[36][failed verification]

    See also[edit]


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    2. ^ "Government urged to drop prosecutions against Richard Boyle, David McBride and Bernard Collaery". ABC News. 13 June 2022.
    3. ^ Pelly, Michael (16 November 2022). "Whistleblower laws to be introduced within next fortnight". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
    4. ^ "National integrity commission".
    5. ^ "Bill Shorten promises federal anti-corruption watchdog if he wins the next election". Sydney Morning Herald. 30 January 2018.
    6. ^ "Morrison government announces new federal anti-corruption commission". the Guardian. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
    7. ^ Times, The Canberra (26 November 2021). "Pragmatism drives govt's ICAC delay". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
    8. ^ Bonyhady, Katina Curtis, Nick (25 November 2021). "Liberal MP Bridget Archer crosses floor to back integrity commission". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
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    11. ^ Karp, Paul (29 November 2022). "'Naccflip': National anti-corruption commission bill passes Senate after Greens backdown". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
    12. ^ "National Anti-Corruption Commission could be operating by mid-2023". Australian Financial Review. 8 September 2022. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
    13. ^ Gorta, Angela (June 2003). "The NSW independent commission against corruption's experience in minimising corruption". Asian Journal of Political Science. 11 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1080/02185370308434216. ISSN 0218-5377. S2CID 154571310.
    14. ^ "Our powers". Retrieved 17 May 2021.
    15. ^ Aulby, Hannah (2018). Tasmania's toothless watchdog: A comparison of the Tasmanian and NSW anti-corruption watchdogs (PDF). Canberra, Australia: Australia Institute.
    16. ^ "About us". IBAC. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
    17. ^ "What is ICAC and why is everyone talking about it?". ABC News. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
    18. ^ Chan, Janet; Dixon, David (November 2007). "The politics of police reform". Criminology & Criminal Justice. 7 (4): 443–468. doi:10.1177/1748895807082068. ISSN 1748-8958. S2CID 146680496.
    19. ^ "Barry O'Farrell resigns after new ICAC evidence over $3,000 wine gift". ABC News. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
    20. ^ "Corruption in Australia". Retrieved 22 May 2022.
    21. ^ "The ABCs of the CPI: How the Corruption Perceptions Index is calculated". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
    22. ^ "2012 Corruption Perceptions Index: Australia". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
    23. ^ Jennings, Andrew (13 December 2012). "Ranking doesn't change foreign bribery facts". Lawyers Weekly. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
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    25. ^ a b Aulby, Hannah (January 2018). "The cost of corruption". Archived from the original (PDF) on February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
    26. ^ "CPI 2020: Asia Pacific - News". Retrieved 14 January 2022.
    27. ^ "9 countries to watch on the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
    28. ^ Creagh, Sunanda (5 November 2012). "Media, unions and political parties seen as Australia's most corrupt institutions". The Conversation. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
    29. ^ "Australian firms too 'complacent' about corruption". ABC News. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
    30. ^ Commission, Australian Public Service (8 January 2018). "APS Values and the Code of Conduct · State of the Service". State of the Service. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
    31. ^ "Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 for Australia". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
    32. ^ "Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 for New Zealand". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
    33. ^ "PNG: Anti-corruption body welcomes passing of ICAC bill". ABC Radio Australia. 13 November 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
    34. ^ "Anti-corruption Body Appoints Director General - Solomon Times Online". Retrieved 14 January 2022.
    35. ^ "Attorney-General's Department >> Crime and corruption >> Anti-corruption". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
    36. ^ " | Subscribe to The Courier Mail for exclusive stories". Retrieved 28 October 2021.