Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5660..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
It is worth noting that, in the context of discussing these matters, the administration and procedure committee has also agreed to put on the web non-executive members' travel, their travel reports and their office expenditure. This matter puts us out in front of the executive members of the Assembly who, at this stage, do not have a mechanism for providing that information to the public.
This is something I have raised at the administration and procedure committee, and I hope that in the future we will see equal transparency across all parts of the Assembly. I am glad to see that non-executive members are leading in this, and I congratulate the Speaker on his initiative on this matter. I think that it will be good for the Assembly.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (11.28): The government, too, will support these proposed amendments to continuing resolution No 6. It is important that the people of Canberra, the residents, those that elect us to office, do have confidence in our system of government. Of course, publications of members' interests go to the heart of ensuring that members do deal appropriately with conflicts of interest. The declaration of interest really is just about ensuring that, where there is a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest, they be respected.
There are some interesting issues around privacy in relation to publication of members' interests, and I think it is fair to accept that the people that put themselves forward for election, are elected and become decision makers accept that their privacy will be impacted to some extent as the result of an overarching requirement for that level of confidence in our system that a declaration of members' interests provides.
One area I think of some ambiguity and some additional complexity in relation to publication of members' interests is the extent to which close family members—spouses, partners and other family members—of members are caught up in a thorough declaration of interests. I think there are some issues for us in relation to the need for us, from time to time, to protect our families, our partners. I know it is a matter of enormous regret to me that I have successively in recent years been forced, as a result of unacceptable and untoward behaviour and threats, including death threats directed at me and directed at me through my family, been forced to remove from the telephone book the public listing of my telephone number. I have been forced as recently as this year, as a result of threatening, obnoxious and offensive mail being delivered to my home letterbox years after I had had my telephone number removed from the public list, to go to what I think is quite the extreme level of having my address removed from the electoral roll.
Always in relation to these issues we do need to be mindful of the fact that we public officials—indeed, politicians—and the families of politicians do face behaviours that are simply unacceptable and that we do potentially face risks that need to be protected against. We should not be complacent about these things. Whilst certainly, as I say, the government supports the rationale and supports the proposal and the need to move with the times and with technology—I certainly have no hesitation in commending the proposal—I do think always as we embrace the need for greater accountability and transparency that we do need to be mindful of some essential checks. For instance, we