Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced plans to create an independent Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) to investigate corruption and criminal behaviour by politicians and Commonwealth employees.
Morrison said the government has been working on the creation of a CIC since January after "long and careful consideration".
But the announcement came just two weeks after Morrison dismissed calls for a national anti-corruption body as a "fringe issue" and blocked independent MP Cathy McGowan's private members bill.
The CIC will cover government departments, agencies and their staff; parliamentarians and their staff; staff of federal judicial officers and, subject to consultation, judicial officers themselves; and contractors.
The anti-corruption body will not operate retrospectively.
The CIC will have two divisions – law enforcement and public sector. Both will investigate allegations of criminal corruption.
The government will also amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 to include new corruption offences.
Attorney-general Christian Porter said the CIC will not be a "kangaroo court". It will not hold public hearings or have the power to make public findings of corruption. Instead it will have the power to investigate and refer individuals to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, leaving findings of corruption in the hands of the court.
"It is not a body that will conduct public hearings and it will not write reports where it makes findings of corruption on a piece of paper against an individual," Porter said. "It is an investigative body, with serious investigative tools, that is well-resourced, specialised and the peak body for building briefs against people who have acted corruptly, and moving those briefs to the DPP."
Asked if the CIC will effectively be operating in secret, Porter said: "An investigative body necessarily investigates in a non-public way, which is very different from operating in secret."
Morrison said the government would undertake "extensive public consultation" with a panel of experts before settling on a proposed model.