Page 1279 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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of the code of conduct and guide to the rules relating to the conduct of members. The legislature of Prince Edward Island in Canada has had a statutory office of conflict of interest commissioner since 2003. This is a place that the Clerk and I visited some time ago. We discussed the issue with officers from the legislature and were guided in many respects on how we would approach the matter here.

The merits of having a position such as that being proposed today have long been discussed in this Assembly. In 1999 a member brought the matter to the attention of the CPA branch following his visit to the United Kingdom Westminster seminar. Also in 1999, the matter was canvassed by the Select Committee on the Report of the Review of Governance, one of its recommendations being that a commissioner for parliamentary ethics be appointed.

In the same year the then Chief Minister presented a discussion paper on the matter to the Assembly. This was subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure for inquiry and report. In 2001 that committee reported back to the Assembly. The report did not support the establishment of the position at that time, although the committee noted that the issue should be considered once a code of conduct had been in place for a reasonable time. It should be noted that the code of conduct has now been in place since 2005.

Members would be aware that there are anticorruption bodies in place in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. There was an inquiry into whether the ACT should have a similar body. It was proposed that the Assembly should enact the commission for integrity bill 1999, but after the matter was referred to an Assembly committee the committee recommended that the bill not be proceeded with further. However, the committee did recommend that the government, in consultation with the Auditor-General, develop a model for a new function that provides an educative role in relation to behaviour and integrity. The establishment of an Assembly ethics and integrity adviser would, I believe, play a preventative role as envisaged by the committee’s report.

In moving this motion today, I am not saying that the Assembly is rife with unanswered ethical issues. The intention of this motion is to be proactive in assisting members when they are faced with the inevitable issues that confront them in adhering to the code of conduct and making their declarations to the members’ interests register. Currently there is no single office or authority from which they can seek advice in relation to these matters. The establishment of an ethics and integrity adviser will address this shortfall.

The motion addresses the appointment, role and duties of the adviser and ensures that adequate record-keeping and reporting mechanisms are in place. The role is structured so that a member may seek advice knowing that it will remain confidential and that no information or records relating to an inquiry will be released without his or her permission. In the interests of public accountability, the adviser will report annually to the Assembly and meet at least annually with the administration and procedure committee. In this way, there is a mechanism to address proposals and resolve issues that may have been raised.

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