In May of 2022, prior to the 2022 Australian Federal Election, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed concern regarding the push for a National Integrity Commission and the focus on pork barrelling over other suspicious behaviour.
Speaking to the Herald and The Age, Mr. Morrison suggested that a national integrity commission's focus should be on identifying criminal behaviour as opposed to 'subjective questions' regarding whether or not a marginal seat's spending amounts to pork barelling.' In regards to the federal politicians representing such seats, Mr. Morrison asked:
“No one is suggesting anyone has broken any law are they?”
Morrison Concerned Investigations into Alleged Pork Barrelling Could Lead to 'public autocracy'
Mr. Morrison also expressed concern regarding members of parliament being investigated by public servants for allocating funding to grants and projects:
“If we are going to so disempower our elected representatives to do things about what is needed in their communities, then what is the point? We can’t just hand government over to faceless officials to make decisions that impact the lives of Australians from one end of the country to the other. I actually think there’s a great danger in that. It wouldn’t be Australia anymore if that was the case, it would be some kind of public autocracy."
Responding to a question on whether or not Mr. Morrison was passionate about establishing the new body, Mr. Morrison stated:
“The unintended consequences of an ill-thought-through integrity commission, I think are very dangerous...I understand the interest there is in this, I understand why people want it. But I also know that if you get it wrong it could cause a lot of damage...I am trying to prevent a massive mistake.”
Mr. Morrison also differentiated the focus areas of such a commission between state and federal governments, noting that sectors more susceptible to corruption including gaming, liquor licensing and development approvals were state government responsibilities. Mr. Morrison was also critical of how such investigations are portrayed in the media:
“This is why I’m so critical of the NSW system because we read far too much [in the media] before anyone has actually been considered in relation to evidence...I think that has destroyed a lot of lives because I think the process has been very faulty.”