Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended the lack of public hearings in the government’s proposed federal integrity commission, saying he opposes a model that would hold politicians “guilty until proven innocent.”
Frydenberg, who is under pressure in his Melbourne seat from Kooyong on the issue of integrity and climate change, said that while he agreed with the need for a federal anti-corruption commission, he disagreed with independents on two items. : public references and hearings
“If we have public references, then what we will see is the arming of an integrity commission,” Frydenberg told ABC’s Insiders program.
“We want other integrity bodies like the AFP, the Ombudsman, to be able to provide the references to the integrity commission and, ultimately, for the courts to decide guilt or innocence. If there is a sufficient case, those matters should be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for the next stage.”
On the issue of public hearings, which some within the Coalition had publicly supported, Frydenberg said that in New South Wales, the high court had been forced to delay trials due to “damaging” ICAC hearings.
He said he did not believe that subjecting politicians to public hearings was “the best way to do justice.”
“Being able to say after a public hearing that someone is acquitted may be too late to restore their reputation. That will be seen as guilty until proven innocent. That is not the right way to go,” Frydenberg said.
“I am in favor of an integrity commission, I would like to, but it must be the correct model.”