Others had warned as early as 2016 that a new body would discourage “frank and fearless advice” from senior public servants and “make it very hard to govern” if Labor had won the May 18 poll.
Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus led the charge to develop the corruption watchdog with the full support of Mr Shorten and then deputy Tanya Plibersek.
But several Labor sources said the trio encountered initial opposition during “very willing internal debate from others including Mr Albanese, Senator Wong, Mr Burke and former senate leader Stephen Conroy.
“They didn’t want it at all initially,” one member of Mr Shorten’s shadow cabinet said.
“They pushed back and back, and while there was some sympathy about some of the arguments they clearly did not understand the public mood around this stuff.”
Another said: “Bill was adamant it was needed. Others were not. They made it known very strongly but the leader won out, as he should have.”
Mr Shorten first backed the creation of a national anti-corruption agency in January 2018 to counter corroding confidence in public institutions.
He pledged a Labor government would create a National Integrity Commission modelled on state anti-corruption bodies with “a broad jurisdiction, effectively operating as a standing royal commission — with all those investigative powers — into serious and systemic corruption in the public sector.”
A spokesman for Senator Wong said on Thursday: It is well known that as a matter of principle, Senator Wong never discusses cabinet or shadow cabinet deliberations.”
A spokesman for Mr Burke said the claims were “wrong” while Mr Albanese’s office pointed to comments he made Thursday calling for the government to speed up its plans for an anti-corruption agency.
Mr Shorten told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age: “Everyone supported the position we took to the election.”
Labor attempted to suspend Parliament on Thursday to call on the Morrison government to fast-track its proposed commission, which was announced in December after months of intense public pressure.
Mr Albanese said it was “very clear that there’s support out there in the Australian public for a National Integrity Commission”.
“We need to ensure that there’s continued confidence in our institutions and a capacity to have appropriate investigations by a body at the national level,” he told Sky News Australia.
Recalling the deliberations inside Labor’s shadow cabinet, one current frontbencher said: “There were concerns. We worked through them and settled on a reasonably sensible plan. Yes, there was some very strong views on both sides… that’s politics.”
Unlike the NSW ICAC, the government’s proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission will not have the power to hold public hearings into alleged corruption by federal politicians, their staff or departments, and whistleblowers and members of the public can not refer a matter to the CIC for investigation.
Attorney-General Christian Porter accused Labor of “hypocrisy” and “double standards”.
“The reason why this legislation cannot be rushed should be obvious… given the many examples of injustices and damage done to personal and professional reputations when the necessary time and care was not taken to properly design state-based integrity commissions,” Mr Porter said.
“People are rapidly losing faith in our democracy, and given the spectre of corruption hanging over the last few weeks, who could blame them.”
Crossbench MPs and senators have stepped up their calls for the urgent establishment of a national anti-corruption watchdog in the wake of serious allegations about the relationship between Crown Resorts and Commonwealth MPs and officials.
“We have little faith that the government’s approach will be as powerful as we need and the Australian people expect,” said Greens leader Richard Di Natale.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra