Auspic

Advocates: Turnbull should expand his construction watchdog

AUSTRALIA needs a two-pronged approach to battling corruption, including expanding the government's proposed building industry watchdog into a national "serious fraud and corruption office", according to transparency advocates.

Transparency International Australia has updated its proposals for efforts to fight corruption in politics, unions and business, and they will form part of the group's submission to a Senate inquiry into a national integrity commission.

The proposals have two levels - one an Australian Serious Fraud and Corruption Office to fight corruption in all areas of society and business.

A second prong would be an Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption Co-ordination in the Prime Minister's Department, to investigate corruption in government and among politicians.

TIA chairman and former New South Wales Court of Appeal judge Anthony Whealy QC said the group's priority was the creation of a body that "would address broad corruption, bribery, money laundering and fraud wherever it occurs".

It would co-ordinate the anti-corruption work of the Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission and other national bodies, but crucially would expand the Turnbull focus on the building industry to all business sectors and unions.

"This is the opportunity to address serious criminality and fraud in Australia," Mr Whealy said.

He said given a series of corruption, bribery and tax evasion scandals, the TIA proposal was required.

Mr Whealy said with many Australians disillusioned with politicians and government, the coming election campaign presented the opportunity for "both the government and the Opposition to leap at the change and demonstrate we are taking this seriously".

With Australia slipping from sixth to 13th on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in the past three years, Mr Whealy said now was the time for Australia "to become a leader in the battle against corruption".



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