Labor launches ‘merit-based’ recruitment for National Anti-Corruption Commissioner

A “merit-based” search will begin this week to find the first person to lead Australia’s National Integrity Watchdog.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus announced Sunday that the Albanian government will begin recruiting the country’s first national anti-corruption commissioner.

The hiring process is a crucial step in helping Labor achieve its goal of establishing the National Anti-Corruption Commission by mid-2023.

The Attorney General’s Ministry will also begin advertising the commission’s other statutory roles.

Dreyfus promised to conduct a merit-based, transparent and robust hiring process that adheres to the “highest standards of integrity and accountability”.

“The government is casting the widest possible net to ensure that the commission is led by the most capable and qualified people, consistent with our commitment to restore transparency and merit in statutory appointments,” said Dreyfus.

Earlier this month, Dreyfus pointed to a review of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), criticizing the “extraordinary politicization” of its appointees as “completely flawed.”

“It has severely damaged the reputation of the institution, which I regret, and we are now considering what we can do about it,” he told the National Press Club of Canberra.

NACC investigators seeking to intercept its targets should obtain a warrant from a judge or designated member of the AAT.

Camera iconAttorney General Mark Dreyfus said NACC appointees will go through a rigorous recruitment process. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr. Dreyfus cannot guarantee that the people signing search warrants for the NACC, including to intercept ministers’ phones, are non-partisan people nominated for the AAT.

An analysis by the Australia Institute found that the number of political appointments at the AAT has soared under the former coalition government.

Over the past three years, 40 percent of appointees had political affiliations, nearly all with liberals or nationals, compared to just 6 percent under John Howard’s government.

Political appointees were less likely to have legal qualifications or legal experience, according to the analysis of the progressive think tank.

The purpose of the AAT is to review a wide range of administrative decisions made by the Commonwealth government.

Dreyfus said any nomination to the NACC would be subject to approval of the legislation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission and approval by the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the bill.

The bill was presented to the House of Representatives and referred to a newly established parliamentary committee, which is expected to present a report by 10 November.

Labor is hoping that the bill will be approved by both houses of parliament with the support of the coalition and the central bank by the end of the year.

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