Farrago Policy Comparisons #8: Democracy and Integrity

What do the parties and candidates say about improving democracy and trust in politics?


There are big concerns with how our democracy is working in Australia and the conduct of Parliamentarians. One of the prominent ideas that is debated is over the creation of a federal integrity commission, which could investigate misconduct or corruption (there are various names and models but they refer to the same basic idea). Many young people also wonder whether the Government will listen to them.

What do the parties and candidates say about improving democracy and trust in politics?


Key people: Stuart Robert (Acting Minister for Education and Youth),  Luke Howarth MP (Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services).

The Coalition drafted a model for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC). It has a narrower scope than other proposals, only investigating criminal matters and holding private hearings. The Prime Minister criticised other models (which are generally stronger and have public hearings) as serving as a “kangaroo court” or “public autocracy".

The Coalition also proposed a Voter Integrity Bill, which would have required ID to be presented for voting. This was meant to raise trust in the voting process and reduce the potential for voter fraud (which is very rare in Australia), though likely would have made it harder for some groups to vote.

More Liberal policies include:

  • Upgrading the Australian Election Commission (AEC) IT systems over 2020-2023.


Key people: Senator Kristina Keneally (Shadow Minister for Government Accountability), Amanda Rishworth MP (Shadow Minister for Youth).

There has been plenty of criticism for the Government’s alleged misuse or politicisation of grants, with “sports rorts” or “car park rorts”. Labor believes proposed projects or grants should be approved by an independent criteria.

Labor has also promised a strong National Anti-Corruption Commission to provide accountability for politicians.

A new youth engagement model, including an Office for Youth and Minister for Youth, would engage with youth concerns and ideas.

More policies include:

  • Commit to more long-term funding for the ABC and SBS.
  • Opposition to compulsory voter ID or other measures making it harder to vote.


Key people: Senator Larissa Waters (Spokesperson for Democracy), Senator Jordan Steele-John (Spokesperson for Youth).

The Greens also support having a strong Federal integrity commission to investigate corruption or unethical behaviour.

The Greens want much stricter restrictions on political donations, with caps of $1000. In 2020, Larissa Waters introduced the Banning Dirty Donations Bill, which would have banned donations from industries like banking, mining or pharmaceuticals.

More Greens policies include:

  • Promoting media diversity with protections for journalists and more funding for the ABC and SBS.
  • Banning Ministers from working in the industries they regulated for 5 years from leaving office.
  • Protections for charities and protestors to advocate on political issues.


Many of the “Teal Independents” have integrity as one of their key pillars. One proposed model, the Australian Federal Integrity Commission, was put forward by independent MP Helen Haines. This saw the eventful crossing the floor of Liberal Bridget Archer.


Minor parties
Australian Democrats want to create a new National Integrity Commission and Whistleblower Protection Authority, along with restoring lost funding to the National Audit Office and Australian Information Commission.

Australian Progressives support a Federal Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) with retrospective powers from 2008 onwards. To counter the influence of political donations, Australian Progressives want real-time donations declarations and banning ‘cash-for-access events.

The Australian Values Party wants stronger standards and accountability for politicians with a code of conduct and review of ethical standards.

One Nation wants an option for citizen initiated referenda or proposals to Parliament.

Reason Australia wants a stronger ICAC model and restrictions on political donations. Optional voting rights for 16 and 17 year olds would also be accompanied by more civics and political literacy education in schools.

Sustainable Australia supports a strong Federal Commission to investigate corruption or misconduct by federal politicians. They also want more transparency and restrictions on political donations and lobbying, including a four year ban on politicians becoming lobbyists.

United Australia Party (UAP) wants a ban on lobbyists working within political parties and countering the influence of money in politics (admittedly ironic given the amount of advertising money spent by Palmer). 








Voter ID






Helen Haines


Australian Democrats


Australian Progressives


Australian Values


One Nation


Reason Australia


Sustainable Australia



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