Morrison defends integrity body criticism

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says the "bells are tolling" for the Morrison government.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says the "bells are tolling" for the Morrison government. Photo: AAP

Anthony Albanese has pledged a federal integrity commission would be one of the first priorities of an incoming Labor government, as Scott Morrison stood by his criticism of the NSW ICAC as a “kangaroo court”.

The opposition leader said a Commonwealth anti-corruption body would be one of the first things that would be addressed should Labor win the election on May 21, along with a reconstruction fund and emissions reduction measures.

Mr Albanese said while his first task if he becomes prime minister would be to attend the Quad Leaders Summit on May 24, he would then set his sights closer to home.

“We will then put in place the structures that you need to drive through that change,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“Structures like our measures to deal with reducing emissions, our national reconstruction fund, our anti-corruption commission … I want to really raise the issues of greater gender equality in this country, I see that as a major priority for us.”

While campaigning in the marginal Liberal seat of Bennelong in Sydney on Tuesday, Scott Morrison defended his previous criticism of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and his failure to implement a federal body, despite it being a campaign promise in 2019.

“I stand by everything I said on the matter, I don’t believe the NSW model is a model we should follow at the federal level,” the prime minister said.

“I’ve seen it come and destroy people’s reputations and careers before it has even made a finding. I don’t think that’s a good process.”

On the first day of pre-polling on Monday, more than 300,000 people cast their ballots ahead of the election.

Election officials have predicted this year’s election will have the highest pre-poll voting, eclipsing the more than 30 per cent of voters who did so in 2019.

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said he was not shocked by the large turnout on day one.

“We were expecting an increase in pre-poll and that’s exactly what we’re seeing at the moment,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

“But the more in envelopes through pre-poll and postal, the harder it will be to determine a result on the night.”

There were long lines at a number of pre-polling locations across the country on Monday.

As cost of living issues continue to dominate the election, Mr Albanese did not say whether he backed the ACTU’s submission to the Fair Work Commission calling for a 5.5 per cent rise to the minimum wage.

While he said workers could not afford to go backwards, the decision should be left to the commission.

“The Fair Work Commission should bear in mind how tough people are doing it, and those people who are on a minimum rate of pay can’t afford to go backwards,” he said.

“People are really struggling out there.”

Mr Morrison said he supported the current process in setting the minimum wage.

“It is for (the Fair Work Commission) to consider those issues and make that decision, in the same way it’s for the Reserve Bank to independently make their decision on what’s happening with cash rates,” he said.

“We have always welcomed and accepted the recommendations that have come from that body.”

Mr Albanese started the day in Melbourne, where he announced support for the Suburban Rail Loop project in Victoria.

Labor has committed to spending $2.2 billion on a section of the rail loop to build 26km of twin tunnels and six underground stations.

Meanwhile, the coalition is pitching $5 million in spending to create a “technology skills passport” to help employees get jobs.

The tool would store information about a worker’s experience and education that can be presented to employers.


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