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Federal anti-corruption commission unlikely to be established this year, as days left to pass legislation tick down

The federal government’s plan to establish an anti- commission looks less and less likely to be introduced to parliament before Christmas.First floated in 2018 by then attorney-general , the Coalition has come under sustained criticism since for failing to establish its long-promised .The model proposed by the government was labelled as a toothless watchdog operating under a veil of secrecy, and was unlikely to get through the Senate.Mr Porter’s successor, , has been left with the task of trying to make it more palatable to crossbenchers, but time is quickly running out for the legislation to be introduced to parliament this year.And, if it isn’t done this fortnight, it may not happen before the next , depending on when people are asked to go to the polls.Here’s where things stand.Why is the anti-corruption body so contentious?Recent high-profile investigations by anti-corruption commissions in states and territories have brought more attention to the lack of an investigative body at the Commonwealth level.The Coalition is wary of models where inquiries become “show trials”, with the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) often cited by MPs as being overly theatrical and unfairly tarnishing reputations during public hearings.And the Deputy Prime Minister, , derided the NSW ICAC as a ‘Spanish Inquisition’ after it announced it was investigating former premier Gladys Berejiklian, leading to her resignation.The battle the Morrison government doesn’t really wantPolitics has forced the government into legislation for a federal  that won’t satisfy critics.Read moreBut Labor members argue the absence of a federal body at a time when there have been political scandals — including the so-called “” saga, the criticism of the commuter carpark scheme and the furore over Christian Porter’s acceptance of from a  — highlight serious flaws in the nation’s integrity framework.There were a few elements in the government’s original proposal which did not pass muster, according to integrity experts and the Coalition’s political opponents.Chief among them was the fact the Commonwealth Integrity Commission would not have the ability to launch investigations off its own bat: it would have to be directed to do so.Analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity showed that was inconsistent with most other jurisdictions, as was the fact it would not be able to receive complaints from any member of the public.The proposed Commonwealth model would not allow for public hearings, again out of step with all other states and territories, with the exception of South Australia.Why won’t it be dealt with this year?There’s a slim chance we could see the legislation by the end of the year, and the Coalition had previously flagged that would be the plan.But, with only a fortnight left in the 2021 parliamentary year, that is now looking unlikely.The Prime Minister’s office and the Attorney-General’s office have both said no decision has been made on when the bill would be introduced, noting Senator Cash has a number of bills to deal with this fortnight. Michaelia Cash already has much on the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year.(ABC News: David Sciasci)Among them is the proposed , to enshrine religious freedoms in Commonwealth legislation.It is likely too late for it to be wedged into the agenda this week, and a decision on introducing it next week would probably need to be made by Friday.”These are complex pieces of legal arrangement and of legislation. The Attorney-General has had those bills drafted, released for public comment, indeed on multiple occasions in some instances,” Finance Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate said.”She has been working through [those] public comments and the feedback in relation to those , and I’ve got no doubt she’ll have more to say during the course of this fortnight.”What happens if we don’t see it this year?It will be a free kick for the Opposition, because Labor will be able to continue its argument the Coalition is hiding from greater scrutiny and is breaking an election promise.If the Prime Minister was to call an election for March 2022, this would be the final sitting fortnight of federal parliament before Australians head to the polls. That turns the issue of an integrity commission into an election battle once more.However, if the election is later, it could open up the early sittings of 2022 for debate on the matter.”We don’t need to go to an election until May,” Mr Joyce said.”So it’s not as if we’re necessarily running out of time.”