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Centre for Public Integrity

Restoring Public Trust

Restoring Public Trust

Public trust in our democracy is low. A perceived lack of integrity in Australia’s political and bureaucratic processes and the erosion of accountability institution...

australia > ALL > both
26/04/2021 > 30/04/2022


  • Civic engagement and leadership
  • Social inclusion and justice (human rights)


  • General population


Public trust in our democracy is low. A perceived lack of integrity in Australia’s political and bureaucratic processes and the erosion of accountability institutions’ jurisdiction and power have led to public concern that government, politicians and public servants do not always act in the public interest.

Political influence can effectively be bought as a result of inadequate regulation of political donations and lobbying. Political donations under the threshold of $14,000 need not be disclosed, disclosures are only listed annually and there is no limit to how much parties can spend on campaigns

There is currently no proper oversight of federal politicians, staffers, and the public service. Allegations of misconduct and corruption are not investigated by any agency with sufficient powers and jurisdiction. The public is left in the
dark, and corruption is not investigated or exposed.

The Centre for Public Integrity currently have several projects underway including:

  • National Integrity Commission: promoting the establishment of a strong and independent National Integrity Commission
  • Money in politics: researching gaps in our electoral laws and design reforms to address political donations
  • Accountability institutions: ensuring accountability institutions can do their job by promoting reforms such as secure funding, merit-based bipartisan appointments, and independence from government
  • Executive power: ensuring accountability mechanisms are in place to limit Ministerial decision-making outside of Parliament

The Centre for Public Integrity is driving crucial reform to increase transparency and accountability in government.
We harness the expertise of pro bono experts and former judges . Our organisation runs on the administration and communications effort of volunteers.

Core funding will provide staff capacity to facilitate this unique collaboration of former judges, lawyers and experts. Additional funding will allow us to pursue new projects including a federal election campaign.


Progress to date: National Integrity Commission
The Centre for Public Integrity has researched the design elements of an effective National Integrity Commission and produced a Design Summary to inform public debate. Stakeholders and policy makers across the political spectrum support our best practise design. Journalists regularly contact us to comment on the need for a National Integrity Commission in response to political scandals. Political and media pressure led the Government to release their Commonwealth Integrity Commission bill late last year. We were front and centre in the media response to the bill, highlighting the design flaws that lead it to be a toothless watchdog.

Progress to date: Money in Politics
The Centre for Public Integrity has published a 15 Point Plan to eliminate the undue influence of money in politics. This research has formed the basis of media coverage, submissions and policy advice to state and federal government and stakeholders. We built a database of political donations from the past 20 years, allowing us to produce analysis of trends over time. We have published research on the biggest donating industries, receiving extensive media coverage through a partnership with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Progress to date: Accountability Institutions
The Centre has produced 10 Integrity Principles to strengthen and protect accountability institutions from attacks and undermining. Case study based research formed the basis of media commentary and submissions to government and agency inquiries. We have hosted Strangling Accountability webinars with former integrity officials, including former judge Marilyn Warren QC and barrister Richard Beasley SC. We have defended accountability institutions when their funding or independence has been threatened, including the Australian National Audit Office and the NSW Independent Planning Commission.

Progress to date: Executive Power
The Centre has published research showing executive lawmaking outside of Parliament
has doubled in the past 30 years. We have participated in two major inquiries scrutinising the COVID response. We have briefed state and federal parliamentarians on the need to strengthen accountability of Ministerial decision-making.

Profile of Centre for Public Integrity

Centre for Public Integrity

The Centre for Public Integrity provides expert research and policy advice on reforms to prevent corruption and strengthen our democracy.

The Centre for Public Integrity harnesses the expertise and credibility of former judges and corruption experts. Board members include former head of the Queensland Fitzgerald Inquiry Tony Fitzgerald AC QC and former counsel assisting NSW ICAC Geoffrey Watson SC.

We identify and research gaps in our accountability system that increase the risk of corruption and undue influence. We produce research papers detailing the necessary reforms to prevent corruption, protect accountability institutions and eliminate the undue influence of money in politics.

Our research has impact. We actively promote our research and reforms in public debate. This research forms the basis of advice to policy makers and stakeholders. Our experts are regularly quoted in the media, cited in over 100 articles and interviews in the past 12 months.
The Centre for Public Integrity is the only dedicated think tank working to reform the foundations of our democracy to restore public interest. We aim to make our democracy transparent and accountable to the public interest.


TOTAL BUDGET: $278,000
Funding sourceAmount
Funding gap (unconfirmed)$278,000
Expense itemAmount
Office and expenses$28,000
Additional projects$30,000

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