Page 3225 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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the impact that misuse of such information can have. We must certainly not use information gained as part of our office for personal gain.

Conduct as employers: we have two major areas of responsibility as employers. Firstly we must ensure that we provide all the support and safeguards for our employees that we expect of other employers in the territory. In this regard we should be model employers. The other area is as people spending taxpayers’ money to support our work as MLAs. We must be scrupulous, and accountable for how that money is spent; we must recognise that the community expects value for their money; and we must also accept that the community wishes us to be seen to be delivering value for their money.

Use of entitlements: similarly we must ensure that we do not abuse the entitlements we receive as members. They are there to assist us in our work for the community, not for our personal use. This applies equally to the use of public resources, property or services.

Continuing support: a final area covered is continuing support. We hope members will continue to support the code after they complete their service as members of the Assembly. One’s life as a politician does not end with service. If there are any controversial issues, as members will note, the second thing that appears in the headline is “former member of” or “former parliamentarian”. That continuing support for the code is an important issue as well.

The code is a public statement for all members. It aims to ensure that we support the high ideals expected of us by the community. I do not think the adoption of a code should have as its central aim the improvement of the popularity of politicians per se. If we think that is what it is all about, we have failed at the first hurdle. By adopting this code we demonstrate our commitment as elected representatives to the ACT to act honestly in all our dealings, to maintain the public trust placed in us and to seek to enhance the standing of the Assembly—this democratic institution—in the community that elects us.

When I was first elected to this Assembly we were the most unpopular parliament in the country. I think all of us who were here in those days would remember it. Over my years here I have hoped that one day that image would be improved. I think it has been improved; I believe that, generally, this Assembly has served the community well. The signals we send of our fidelity to the electorate are, of course, a bit of a work in progress. I think this code of practice contributes to that further work, and there will be more work in the future. I make the point here that the committee which recommended this code of practice, which I chair, also recommended that this code of practice be reviewed before the end of this Assembly to see how its operation has served the Assembly and the people of the ACT. As I say, this sort of thing has to be a work in progress, and this is a starting point.

The fact is that our democracy cannot be seen to be successful if our parliamentary institution is not held in high regard and respect out there in the community. So I trust that this code, although I do not think it is the full answer to all of the issues that concern the community, is an important step in the right direction. I commend the code to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (11.40): The opposition will be supporting this motion today. We thank the Speaker for bringing forward the code of

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