A new independent watchdog body with royal commission powers will be established to oversee the nation’s federal crime agencies, after the Federal Government caved in to pressure to crack down on allegations of corruption in the Australian Crime Commission.
The Government denied the backflip was prompted by an ABC Four Corners program this week which exposed how corruption from the state’s police forces had spread to the national crime fighting body.
The move also follows the escalating police corruption scandal in Victoria.
The new national anti-corruption body, which the Federal Opposition said yesterday it would support, would have telephone intercept powers and would be able to investigate federal law enforcement bodies such as the Australian Federal Police and the ACC.
On Monday the Justice Minister, Chris Ellison, suggested there was no need for a watchdog body to oversee the ACC, saying it was already “one of the most regulated national law enforcement bodies in the country”.
Senator Ellison said at the time there was no evidence of “systemic corruption” in the organisation and that investigations into the activities of two former NSW and Victorian police officers who had been seconded to the ACC were isolated cases.
But yesterday the Federal Government blamed an “inappropriate request from Victoria in relation to telephone intercept powers for an Ombudsman” for providing the opportunity to review the adequacy of scrutiny of federal law enforcement.