The Honourable Stephen Charles AO KC is a retired Australian judge who served on the Supreme Court of Victoria Court of Appeal between 1995 and 2006.  In 2017 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the law and to the judiciary, particularly in the areas of commercial arbitration and mediation, to judicial administration, and to legal professional organisations.

He is a board member of the Accountability Round Table and the Centre for Public Integrity.  He is the co-author, with Catherine Williams, of Keeping Them Honest: The case for a genuine national integrity commission and other vital democratic reforms (Scribe, 2022).

He was Chair of the Victorian Bar from 1983-5 and President of the Australian Bar Association from 1985-6. In 1983 he represented ASIO in the Combe Inquiry. In 1986 he was Counsel assisting the Parliamentary Commission into Justice Lionel Murphy. In 2011 he was Chair of the panel set up to advise the Baillieu Government on the establishment of the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.  He is now an Adjunct Professor in the Monash Law School.

The purpose of this Address is to explain the reasons for the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission and to discuss what form the NACC should take.  In doing so, it is necessary to examine governmental obligations under the Rule of Law, and the extent of the Executive’s entitlement to spend taxpayers’ money without statutory authority. Recent history of the behaviour of the Australian Government [whether Coalition or Labor] has shown the willingness of government to disregard the interests of the community and underlined the necessity for handbrakes to executive power. Corruption in government is broader than criminal misconduct.  An anti-corruption body must have a broad jurisdiction, not limited to criminal offences, the ability for anyone to make complaints, the strong powers of a Royal Commission, the ability to hold public hearings when it is in the public interest to do so, and the right to make public reports of investigations.