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National Anti-Corruption Commission: Watchdog scares politicians and influential Australians

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The proposed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is stirring fear into the hearts of some of Australia’s most powerful people before it even becomes law.

Legislation for a corruption watchdog has just been tabled in parliament, but there are already dissatisfaction with both the right and left of Labour.

During his speech on Sunday, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said it will have the power to wiretap politicians’ phones, even on encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal, and there will be no place to hide.

He said a “decision made in (Scott Morrison’s) office” when he was prime minister “seemed quite corrupt to me.”

“I think everyone should be careful,” Mr. Dreyfus said ABC’s Insiders program about the NACC, which is called a federal version of NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (pictured) said National Anti-Corruption Commission will mean 'everyone needs to be careful'

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (pictured) said National Anti-Corruption Commission will mean ‘everyone needs to be careful’

“We don’t want corrupt activities to contaminate our government system. That’s why we’re finally creating an Anti-Corruption Commission for Australia.”

Shadow Cyber ​​Security Minister James Paterson said he supports NACC but “would rather they have no sensitive information like (encrypted messages) at all”.

On the other hand, the Greens also want a federal watchdog, but they fear that Labor will water it down to ensure it gains coalition support in the Senate.

“It would be a disaster for integrity and a disaster for the new Labor government to make a dirty deal with (opposition leader Peter) Dutton,” said Greens Senator David Shoebridge. New daily.

“It was a hard lesson in what not to do, not a partner to work with.”

Mr Paterson said that if NACC collects encrypted data from the phones of politicians and other powerful people, “it will come into possession of highly sensitive and potentially classified information.”

“That makes it a very attractive intelligence-gathering target for foreign intelligence agencies,” he said Sky News.

Dreyfus dismissed the coalition’s concerns, saying: any sensitive information collected would be ‘stored very carefully’.

‘This is the distinction you have to make before a national anti-corruption commission. It may be national security information,” he said.

“That’s generally not something the state and territory anti-corruption commissions need to worry about.

“That may be something this committee should be concerned about, and there are special provisions for that.”

The proposed National Anti-Corruption Commission has been called a federal version of NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption (logo shown)

The proposed National Anti-Corruption Commission has been called a federal version of NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption (logo shown)

The proposed National Anti-Corruption Commission has been called a federal version of NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (logo shown)

A major sticking point for the Greens and independent cross-benchers was the high threshold for public hearings, which the government bill said would only be held in “exceptional circumstances.”

Many retired judges also support public hearings, saying they increase transparency and public trust.

“We have always emphasized the importance of public hearings and will continue to look at how the draft legislation deals with them,” said David Harper, a former judge on the Victorian Supreme Court.

But Dreyfus defended the high bar for public hearings and said the government had struck the right balance.

He said there were good reasons for private hearings, including national security issues.

“There’s a lot in this bill that’s designed to make sure people trying to escape an investigation can’t,” he said.

National Anti-Corruption Commission gets powers to wiretap politicians' phones, even on encrypted apps like WhatsApp (pictured) and Signal

National Anti-Corruption Commission gets powers to wiretap politicians' phones, even on encrypted apps like WhatsApp (pictured) and Signal

National Anti-Corruption Commission gets powers to wiretap politicians’ phones, even on encrypted apps like WhatsApp (pictured) and Signal

There are coalition concerns that the NACC will be used as a political tool against coalition MPs.

But Dreyfus said that was not the case, even though he previously described the “sports lapses” scandal as “government corruption beyond question.”

An auditor general’s report found that fringe and focused seats were preferred to receive funding through the $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Grant program in the run-up to the 2019 election.

The office of the then Secretary of State for Sports, Bridget McKenzie, colored the nearly 2,000 grant applications according to the party that controlled the electorate.

Bridget McKenzie's (pictured) office color-coded nearly 2,000 athletic scholarship applications according to which party held the seat

Bridget McKenzie's (pictured) office color-coded nearly 2,000 athletic scholarship applications according to which party held the seat

Bridget McKenzie’s (pictured) office color-coded nearly 2,000 athletic scholarship applications according to which party held the seat

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said a 'decision made in (Scott Morrison's) office ... seemed pretty corrupt to me'

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said a 'decision made in (Scott Morrison's) office ... seemed pretty corrupt to me'

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said a ‘decision made in (Scott Morrison’s) office … seemed pretty corrupt to me’

“I thought the idea that a decision made in (Scott Morrison’s) office when he had no power over the case, with 51 colored spreadsheets revealed by the auditor general, seemed to me quite corrupt,” he said.

“But it won’t be my decision. It will be a matter for this independent commissioner to decide whether anyone refers a case to her or him for decision.

“This is not an exercise in political payback. This is not a partisan operation.’

Dreyfus also addressed Shadow Attorney General Julian Leeser’s claim that union officials would not face the NACC’s investigative powers.

“Union officials are not excluded,” he said.

“Any third party who corruptly tried to influence public decision-making will be investigated by this committee.”