Corruption watchdog to investigate subsidies

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The Albanian government’s model for a national anti-corruption watchdog will have the power to investigate the subsidy programs used for the pork barrel.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said a task force of senior officials had been created to get the integrity commission legislated by the end of the year.

“All the resources of the department are now devoted to crafting the best bill we can present to the Australian parliament,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

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“The commission will be independent. It’s gonna be powerful. It will have the powers of a royal commission and some of the contentious issues that we have looked at, the scope of the commission, it will deal with serious and systemic corruption.

Mr Dreyfus told Nine Journals it was essential the commission could investigate grant schemes and the misuse of public money, which he said could cross the line into corruption.

He said the watchdog would draw on the model proposed by Independent Victorian MP Helen Haines and commissions already operating in states and territories.

This follows previous scandals under the former Morrison government, which included a $100 million sports grant scheme and a $660 million commuter parking fund.

The Auditor General concluded that neither program was merit-based.

Mr Dreyfus said the commission would have discretion when it chose to hold public hearings and what mattered to investigate.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged during the election campaign to set up a retrospective integrity commission, with the ability to hold public hearings into allegations of corruption in government, for former and current politicians.

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