Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched a scathing attack on the NSW anti-corruption watchdog, labelling it a “kangaroo court” that “did over’ former premier Gladys Berejiklian.
In a fiery defence of his government’s proposed federal integrity commission on Thursday, Mr Morrison said the government did not want to create anything like NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption
“Those opposite want to support the sort of show in NSW, which has seen the most shameful attacks on the former premier of NSW,” he said.
“The Australian people know that the former premier of NSW was done over by a bad process.
“I’m not going to have a kangaroo court taken into this parliament.”
Ms Berejiklian resigned as NSW premier after the ICAC announced it was investigating whether she breached public trust over grants awarded between 2012 and 2018, when she was in a secret relationship with disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
Mr Morrison unleashed on the watchdog in question time on Thursday, after facing a grilling over his government’s failure to deliver on an election promise to create a federal anti-corruption body.
It followed extraordinary scenes in the House of Representatives earlier in the day, after yet another Coalition MP crossed the floor to vote against the government and in favour of an independent MP’s proposal for a federal watchdog.
Liberal MP Bridget Archer, the member for the marginal Tasmanian seat of Bass surprised her Liberal colleagues when she seconded a motion by Indi MP Helen Haines to debate her bill.
The government lost the vote on raw numbers but it was able to use a the lack of an absolute majority, due to COVID provisions, to halt debate.
Mr Morrison faced a grilling in question time later, when Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese noted that most Australians were in favour of a federal body.
“Why has the Prime Minister refused to act for more than 1000 days?” he said.
But the Prime Minister said the government’s proposed body had been available for some time, and Labor had refused to back it.
“What was done to Gladys Berejiklian, the people of NSW know, was an absolute disgrace,” he said.
“These things, these matters should be looking at criminal conduct, not who your boyfriend is.
“Criminal conduct! Criminal conduct is what this should look at, not chasing down someone’s love life.”
The Coalition’s proposal has previously been criticised as worse than nothing by former NSW Court of Appeal judge Anthony Whealy.
On Wednesday, Mr Morrison told parliament draft laws for a federal integrity commission will be available very soon.
The Coalition has committed to to introducing a bill to parliament this year. The final scheduled sitting day of 2021 is next Thursday.