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Former Australian judges call for national anti-corruption body

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SYDNEY: Dozens of former Australian judges published an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday calling for a national anti-corruption body to restore public trust.

The letter, written by 34 former judges including the former chief justice of the High Court of Australia, said there is public suspicion that corruption permeates many government actions.

"Secrecy is at the core of corrupt conduct," they said in the letter, published in the Sunday Age newspaper.

"A National Integrity Commission is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our integrity system and restore trust in our democracy."

Public concerns over corruption in government have heightened in recent years.

Transparency International Australia, an anti-corruption organisation, conducted a survey in June that found 85 percent of people believe at least some members of the national parliament are corrupt, and two-thirds of Australians support the creation of a national anti-corruption body.

Concerns have been raised over senior public servants winning lucrative consultancies or board positions from firms which then win contracts from their previous departments, said Prof A.J. Brown, professor of public policy at Griffith University and board member of Transparency International.

There are plans to table a bill to establish a national anti-corruption body in federal parliament when it resumes today. The Labor opposition supports a national anti-corruption body but the move is opposed by the ruling conservative minority government.

Attorney General Christian Porter told Reuters the model would give extraordinary powers against public servants with a definition of "corruption" that was too broad. - REUTERS