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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2257..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

(3) decides that, notwithstanding Ms Porter's contract, it is in the public interest to allow Ms Porter to participate in any future discussion of a matter, or vote on a question, in relation to the Code of Conduct for Members.

This simply permits Ms Porter to participate in this discussion, notwithstanding the fact that it could, in a very indirect way, be argued that she has an employment contract with a family member that precludes her from participating in the debate. But this allows the Assembly to note that and still allows her to participate in the debate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (16.03): I move:

That the resolution of the Assembly of 25 August 2005 regarding the Code of Conduct for All Members of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory be amended as follows: Omit: "Members should make employment decisions that are in the best interests of the Members and the Assembly. Members are advised to carefully consider the implications of employing persons in close relationships where there may be perceived conflicts of interest.", substitute: "Members should not appoint close relatives to positions in their own offices or any other place of employment where the Member's approval is required.".

Members will appreciate that, as Speaker of this Assembly, I have taken a special interest in the code of conduct for members over many years. When elected to the First Assembly in 1989, I was aware, as many were, of the low esteem in which we were held by the community and knew that we would have to work hard to win the respect and trust of our electors. I think that has happened over many years, but there is always the need for improvement. It took us a long time to establish a code of conduct for members. Over a number of Assembly terms, the issue of a code of conduct for members was examined by various committees and options for a code of conduct were proffered.

When I became Speaker in 2001 I worked with the administration and procedure committee to put in place a code of conduct for members. The administration and procedure committee issued a report in August 2004 containing the draft code of conduct and recommended that the Sixth Assembly adopt the code as a resolution of continuing effect. That code was adopted in August last year.

The motion before us today adds to that code and strengthens it. The amendment replaces the advice that members should "carefully consider the implications of employing persons in close relationships where there may be perceived conflicts of interest"with the provision "Members should not appoint close relatives to positions in their own offices or any other place of employment where the Member's approval is required". I believe that this is an important improvement to the code of conduct. In fact, it is a provision that I was keen to see included in the administration and procedure committee report in 2004.

Members have a great deal of power in the exercise of their duties. With this come responsibilities-responsibilities to ensure that taxpayers' funds are spent wisely and in the best interest of the communities that we serve. The code also places an obligation on


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