Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5659..
MR RATTENBURY (continuing):
internet, such as travel and expenditure on discretionary office allocation, is an attempt to be more open and transparent about MLAs' entitlements and follows on from a fairly critical federal Auditor-General's report this year, which noted that a strong accountability regime was needed over expenditure and that there would be a considerable benefit in greater reporting on entitlements in a way that was more publicly accessible. Of course, it also follows on from considerable publicity in the UK about member entitlements and the lack of transparency and disclosing of those entitlements.
Mr Barr: Have you had your moat cleaned lately?
MR RATTENBURY: Whilst I have not had my moat cleaned lately, as Mr Barr suggests, it is important that, for the sake of public confidence, this information is available and we are seen to not have a system like that in the UK, which is clearly unacceptable.
The change is also in accord with the moves by the Assembly in late 2008 to endorse the Latimer House principles under continuing resolution AA. In relation to ethical governance, the principles state that ministers, members of parliament, judicial officers and public office holders in each jurisdiction should respectively develop, adopt and periodically review appropriate guidelines for ethical conduct. These should address the issues of conflict of interest, whether actual or perceived, with a view to enhancing transparency, accountability and public confidence. I would suggest that these changes proposed are designed to enhance transparency, accountability and public confidence.
I particularly note that, in an era in which the internet and the web are the means of seeking information for many people, it is entirely appropriate that we move forward and place these documents on the internet and move past that era where one simply has to come in and have the Clerk open his safe in order to be able to access these documents. I think we do live in a different world. It also means the Clerk does not always have to remember the combination to his safe.
I would like to say that I appreciate the unanimous support given to these proposed changes by all the members of the administration and procedure committee where we first discussed this. I think it can give the ACT public confidence that all members in this place are committed to transparency. I welcome that support that I received in the committee for these proposed changes.
One final note as a matter of practicality is that it obviously will take a little while to put these changes in place. We would aim to make the first ones available earlier in the year in accordance with the proposed six-month timetable. I think that is achievable in my discussions with the Clerk, but I will write to members with several weeks warning to advise them when this will specifically take place in order to give members an opportunity to update their registrable interests and the like before they are placed on the web and made available in this way. I commend the change to members, and I welcome your support.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.27): The Liberal opposition is happy to support this motion, because it does go down the path of increased transparency on these matters.