AUSTRALIA is in need of a federal integrity commission, says the lead SA Senate candidate for the Australian Democrats.
Tim Burrow, also the former Agribusiness Australia chief executive officer, said Australia had fallen behind while other countries had "continually improved their standards of governance".
"The current federal government stands condemned - both for presiding over increased corruption and failing to create a body to contest it," he said.
Mr Burrow said the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 ranked Australia 13th of 180 countries with a score of 77/100.
In 2012, prior to the election of the Abbott government, Australia ranked 7th of 174 countries with a score of 85/100.
"Australia urgently needs a federal statutory body with clear responsibility for public sector corruption to match the successful Independent Commissions Against Corruption adopted by all the states," he said.
"This should be an agency with unquestioned legal leadership and broad powers, including the ability to initiate investigations and the authority to make criminal arrests.
"Even the perception of public corruption encourages criminal behaviour and imposes very large economic costs on all Australians.
"Our hard earned reputation as an open and honest society has eroded.
"We have much work to do to so breaches of accepted standards are prosecuted, citizens are safe and the Rule of Law applies equally to all."
He is calling for something similar to the cross-bench Bill sponsored by independent MP Cathy McGowan.
He said the Australian Democrats recognised McGowan's bill did not address some issues, which would need to be worked through if a bill of this nature is to become law.
But he said both the Coalition and Labor Party had proposed limited solutions, as a result of public pressure, that fell well short of this standard.
The Democrats have committed to making the establishment of a national Integrity Commission a priority in the next period of government.
"Australia's open and free democratic system is a matter the Democrats will fight to protect and requires our constant vigilance," Mr Burrow said.