Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4388 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
Public servants have a much broader code of conduct or set of ethical standards written out for them. It is quite interesting to me that, as far as I know, there are no parliaments in Australia that have chosen to have a broader code, if they have chosen to have a code of conduct at all. That is a concern. I agree with Ms Dundas' comment that there will be concern in the community if we are not prepared to give ourselves a set of standards as community leaders. Why not? That is something that the committee can look at.
This consideration of the role of volunteers is obviously the result of the privileges report as well. I think this is an inquiry that needs to happen. The privileges report clearly articulates the reasoning for this, so I will not go into any more detail now.
MR HARGREAVES (11.55): This side of the house will not oppose the motion. It needs to be said that items 1 and 2 of the motion are rightly within the province of the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure, and would be adequately covered by its terms of reference. It is this committee that advises the Speaker on matters of housekeeping and administration. The Speaker then, as minister for the department of the Legislative Assembly, advises members accordingly.
The Administration and Procedure Committee is currently reviewing InTACT's role as the IT service provider for the Assembly. Should there be any significant change resulting from such a review, I would expect Mr Speaker would, as a courtesy to the house, advise the Assembly. Because of this, I doubt that clause 1 is really necessary.
The status of volunteers, in particular their access to the information contained in members' offices and in party IT groupings, is something which ought to be reviewed by the committee. However, again, I am certain that the Speaker would advise all members of such a review and its outcome. As this issue was raised in the Privileges Committee report of this year, it is reasonable to assume that the committee would pick the issue up. It should be noted that the committee's attention to both of these issues was recommended by the Privileges Committee, so there would appear to be no real reason to formalise a referral here.
On the other hand, clause 3 of the motion really would be a matter for thought in the context of industrial relations. We are currently examining conditions of employment for LA(MS) Act staff and looking at linking positions with levels in the ACT public service, which has within its employment regimes such a code of conduct. There is a danger that the committee is being asked to reinvent the wheel or anticipate the result of the industrial negotiations with staff employed under the LA(MS) Act.
When Ms Dundas talks about members and their staff, it is not clear whether she is referring to executive members' staff, non-executive members' staff, volunteers, contract employees or all of the above. If she means all of the above, it will be interesting to consider how such a code will be enforced. Ms Tucker alluded to this. Will it be mandatory or voluntary? Will it be a clause in the contract with staff? How will it be policed? What will be the penalties for breaches? The list goes on.