Aussie Attorney-General announces federal ICAC with ‘greater powers’ than Royal Commission

Attorney-General Christian Porter has announced the establishment of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission designed to “investigate serious criminal” offences relating to federal corruption with broad-ranging powers.

The Commonwealth Integrity Commission will have “greater powers than a royal commission” with the maximum penalty of up to two years for failure to comply with the commission, the attorney-general said.

“It will be able to compel people to give sworn evidence at hearings with a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for failure to comply,” Mr Porter said

“It will have the power to compel people to produce information or documents, even if that information would incriminate the person, again with a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for non-compliance.

“It will have the power to search people and their houses or seize property under warrant. It will have the power to arrest people. It will have the power to intercept phone calls and use other surveillance devices to investigate persons and confiscate people’s passports by court orders.

“It will also have the ability, its agents, that is its officers, to assume false identities for the purposes of investigation”.

Mr Porter said the new commission will be a “centralised agency” with a budget of more than $140 million.

He said $106 million will be new funding allocations, while $40.7 million comes from “existing allocations” to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity which will become the law enforcement division of the new commission.

“It will have 172 staff and it will be governed by 393 pages of legislation, so it is a very substantial undertaking.

“The number of the people that will be covered by that public sector division is very large and it changes, but it is many hundred thousand, there being 150,000 people employed under the Public Sector Management Act.”