HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Australia Establishes an Anti-Corruption Body

Australia has established the National Anti-Corruption Commission (hereinafter, the Commission).

The activities of the agency are regulated by National Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 12 December 2022 No.88.

The Commission will fulfill the following functions:

  • Conduct investigations autonomously or together with other public bodies against serious and/or systemic corruption crimes, including those that had been committed before the Commission was established, as well as against the actions of officials that can lead to these crimes. The Act covers the representatives of both the public and private sectors, including ministers, members of Parliament, officials and employees of all public entities and private companies and their employees who are contractors (service providers) of public entities;
  • Conduct preliminary investigations autonomously or together with other public bodies against other corruption crimes;
  • Compile reports on the investigations conducted, including the findings of the Commission, evidence and relevant grounds, as well as recommendations;
  • In certain cases, submit materials to other public bodies to conduct investigations, supervise these investigations, provide indications to the bodies and receive reports on the outcome of the investigations;
  • Conduct assessment of corruption risks in public bodies and elaborate measures to mitigate them;
  • Gather, store and process reports of whistleblowers, including anonymous ones;
  • Draft reports on the activities of the Commission for the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (hereinafter, the Committee), reports and recommendations with regard to necessary legislative and/or administrative reforms in the areas regulated by the Act for the minister responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the Act (hereinafter, the Minister);
  • Undertake anti-corruption training activities etc.

In conducting investigations, the staff of the Commission are entitled to:

  • Request information from public bodies; in this context, the provision of false or misleading information is punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to five years;
  • Hold hearings also by inviting the persons with regard to whom there are reasonable grounds to believe that they are in possession of the information that is related to the investigation, ask to provide information and material evidence throughout these hearings. The hearings are closed by default, but in certain cases they can also be public. Failure to appear, provide information and/or evidence, obstruction of hearings, refusal to respond to questions during hearings and to take the oath are punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to two years; destruction of material evidence, provision of false or misleading information and/or material evidence and threats to the persons present in the hearing are punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to five years;
  • Enter the premises of the public bodies whose officials are under investigation, have access to the necessary documents, make copies and/or seize documents etc.

The Commission will act as an autonomous body, functionally independent of the Government. It will be supervised by the Committee and the Inspector of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, appointed by the Committee (hereinafter, the Inspector).

The agency will be headed by the National Anti-Corruption Commissioner (hereinafter, the Commissioner) appointed by the Governor-General following the recommendations of the Minister pre-approved by the Committee for a non-renewable five-year term. The Commissioner is prohibited from undertaking other remunerated activities without the Minister’s permission.

Besides general provisions regulating the activities of the Commission, the Act contains norms regarding the protection of persons who report corruption offences.

In particular, under the Act, an individual is recognised as a whistleblower if he/she:

  • Submits information on a corruption offence to the Commissioner, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (hereinafter, the Inspector-General) or to the Inspector;
  • Testifies and/or provides material evidence of a corruption offence during the investigation of the Commissioner, the Inspector-General or the Inspector.

The measures for protecting whistleblowers include:

  • Exemption from criminal, administrative and civil liability due to the disclosure of information, as well as from the application of contractual and/or other legal remedies;
  • Absolute privilege in court proceedings in the event that the whistleblower is accused of slander;
  • Prohibition to terminate the employment contract with the whistleblower based on the fact that the disclosure is a violation of the contract;
  • Protection of the whistleblower from retaliation. The persons who retaliate against the whistleblower are punished by imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

Under the Act, the retaliatory measures are:

  • Dismissal;
  • Infliction of physical harm on the whistleblower on duty;
  • Demotion, refusal to promote the employee or violation of other labour rights of the employee;
  • Discrimination.

UPD. Commission commence on 1 July 2023.

Corruption whistleblowers
Anti-corruption authorities
Criminal prosecution

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