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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3950 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

The proposed legislation provides for the appointment of a commissioner responsible for the administration and affairs of the commission. The commissioner may be assisted by one or more assistant commissioners and can be removed only by an address of the Legislative Assembly, rather than by Executive fiat. The integrity commission must give special attention to matters referred to it by resolution of the Legislative Assembly.

The Bill also provides for three other important measures. Firstly, the appointment of an operations review committee to advise the commissioner, especially about what action might be taken on complaints received about possible conduct lacking integrity. Secondly, it extends the responsibilities of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety to include monitoring and reviewing the integrity commission's functions. Thirdly, it establishes an ethical standards council comprising members of the Legislative Assembly and community members, whose function is to prepare draft codes of conduct for Assembly members, to carry out educative work relating to Assembly ethical standards, and to give the Assembly advice on such ethical standards.

Mr Speaker, when four months ago I circulated widely for public comment an exposure draft of this Bill, I could never have predicted the strength of positive response that this proposed legislation has generated. There is a great deal of support for it out there. Interestingly, the only strident opposition has come from the Carnell Government itself and, predictably, from its supporters at the Canberra Times. One important public comment I have taken into account is the need to accentuate the positive in this legislation. Accordingly, the term "integrity" - or, rather, the lack thereof - is used in preference to "corruption", of which the Attorney-General insists there is none.

In conclusion, may I repeat some observations that I made in this Assembly on 25 August when I tabled the exposure draft of this Bill. Official or public corruption is one of the great evils of our time and, unfortunately, we cannot assume that our Territory is immune from this creeping cancer. The cost to the community of such conduct is immense, not just in terms of dollars, but in the damage done to community confidence in public administration. I believe that only a powerful, independent, extrajudicial body like the integrity commission can perform the essential function of rooting out this creeping cancer. Integrity in government must be assured. I commend this Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries ) adjourned.


MS TUCKER (10.37): Mr Speaker, I present the Environment Protection Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1999.

Title read by Clerk.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

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