‘Sports rorts’ affair, car park saga could be early federal integrity body tests

Exclusive: The so-called 'sports rorts' affair and former government's commuter carpark program could be among the first referrals by the new Albanese government to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Speaking to Nine News in his first broadcast interview since being sworn in as Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus said the "first item of work" for him is setting up the federal integrity body, which the Coalition failed to do in its last term of office.

"We've made a commitment to legislate by the end of 2022 and we're going to keep that commitment," Mr Dreyfus said.

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Labor argues it plans to establish an independent commission "with teeth", that will hold public hearings, examine past conduct by politicians and public servants and receive referrals not just from government, but any member of the public.

Mr Dreyfus said there is "potential" for the commission to examine the previous government's handling of a 2019 election splurge on commuter car parks, which the Auditor General found was "not merit based", as well as a sports grant scheme that favoured Coalition and marginal seats.

"Some of these discretionary grant programs had no guidelines at all," Mr Dreyfus told Nine News.

"You need to have clear rules, clear guidelines about spending public money. If you don't, you've always got the potential for corruption."

Labor successfully weaponised the Coalition's funding scandals to argue for a federal integrity commission, an issue also championed by independent MPs and candidates in the lead up to the recent election.

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The new government insists all political parties will be treated "equally" by the independent body.

"This commission is not a political body, it will be equally able to investigate members of any political party be they Labor or Liberal.

"It will enable us to reduce corruption in the government of Australia. It will enable us to restore integrity, to build confidence in our government.

"There is already $100m allocated in the budget to establish and run the commission, but the Attorney-General confirmed he'll be looking at whether more money is needed.

"We will make sure that the Anti-Corruption Commission has sufficient resources," Mr Dreyfus said, clarifying that any extra funding would be allocated in the October budget.

"My hope would be that over the course of 2023, this Anti-Corruption Commission can be up and running… and starting to hold hearings."

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