Vote Compass: Australians want a federal corruption watchdog, even though major parties don't

More than 80 per cent of Australians would welcome a federal corruption watchdog similar to the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Vote Compass data shows.

The Coalition and Labor have both dismissed the idea, saying there are already safeguards in place.

Anthony Whealy QC, the chair of Transparency International in Australia, said the Australian people had wanted action on a corruption watchdog "for a long time".

"So far neither the Government or the Opposition have placed it on their agenda," he said.

"The public become very sceptical about why it is that politicians don't want to have a federal anti-corruption agency ... They say 'well, why are they pushing this aside, surely it's a good reason, what are they hiding'."

Mr Whealy, a retired Supreme Court judge and a former NSW ICAC commissioner, said most of the states and territories had a broad-based anti-corruption agency and questioned why the federal sphere should be different.

The Greens have called for a federal ICAC.

Majority backs return of ABCC

Today's Vote Compass data also reveals a slim majority of Australians - 54 per cent - backed the resurrection of the Australian Building Corruption Commission (ABCC), the stated reason for PM Malcolm Turnbull calling a double dissolution election.

However, the question evoked an unusually high rate of people answering 'neutral' (22 per cent) and 'don't know' (6 per cent).

The ABCC was rejected in the Senate with the combined forces of Labor, the Greens, and crossbench Senators Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus, Ricky Muir and John Madigan.

Some opponents of the bill, like Senator Lambie, were not satisfied that the ABCC's lens was just focused on the building industry, and argued instead for a broader corruption watchdog.

Property Council chief Ken Morrison backed the ABCC's reinstatement, saying it had proved effective in combating "lawlessness" in the construction sector.

"We've seen the sort of practices and disputes back on the rise again at six-year highs right now and that's bad for the construction industry.

"It's bad for everybody because we rely on the construction industry for jobs but we also rely on the construction industry to provide the infrastructure and new buildings that our economy need."

Labor and the union movement have characterised the resurrection of the ABCC, and its precursor the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, as a witch hunt.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said a national corruption body would be a much better use of resources than the ABCC.

"If they really did want to deal with corruption or fraud or criminal activities they would look right across the whole society and actually institute a national ICAC which is what the trade union movement has been calling for," she said.

"People don't know about [the ABCC] and they don't care about it, they don't understand it. The people that do know something about it really have been fed a great deal of misinformation," Ms Kearney said.

"This government is trying to undermine the power that trade unions have."

Mixed views on unions' role

Vote Compass respondents were also asked whether they agreed with the proposition, "Trade unions have too much power in the workplace", with results showing a mix of views.

Some 42 per cent agreed unions had too much power, while 33 per cent of people disagreed and 20 per cent were neutral.

These findings for the ABCC and federal corruption watchdog questions are based on 230,641 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from May 8 to May 25, 2016. The findings for the trade union question is based on 28,265 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from May 19 to May 25, 2016. The data has been weighted to ensure the sample reflects the Australian population. [ Read the Vote Compass data FAQ ]

Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/vote-compass-federal-icac-abcc/7474810

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