Page 2815 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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members the restriction on employing family members. That is bluntly what they want to do, and that is what they say in the majority report.

Mr Mulcahy: I thought I acknowledged that.

MR BERRY: You said you endorsed what Mrs Burke said. Mrs Burke seemed to be trying to create the impression that she supports a status quo. She does not, if the majority report is to be any guide. The fact of the matter is that she wants to downgrade the current code of practice. I will read it to you, Mrs Burke, if you do not believe me:

The Committee recommends that the Code of Conduct for Members be amended by omitting the following words in paragraph (8)

“Members should not appoint close relatives to positions in their offices or any other place of employment where the Member’s approval is required”

That is what you support, Mrs Burke, and you encourage members, therefore, to widen the practice. Now, I have to say that of all of the tin-pot legislatures I have seen around the world, you can back it in that most of them have got problems with nepotism. That is why, over the many years that I have been in this Assembly, I have been a constant defender of ethics around those issues.

Mr Mulcahy mentioned a Democrat senator and how a relationship in that situation was working out all right. I have not made any studies into this, but I will bet you that Senator Murray has never raised the issue of nepotism. It would surprise me if he did, because straight away the finger would be pointed and the question asked, “But what about you?” That is one of the basic issues that have to be considered here, and I am extremely disappointed that my two Assembly colleagues do not seem to understand the need for a clear, ethical position when it comes to being part of the scrutiny process.

I do not think you understand it clearly at all, Mr Mulcahy. In fact, I know you do not understand it that well, because one of the examples you gave was that you saw these things working all right in the corporate sector. This is not the corporate sector. You have a basic misunderstanding about what a legislature is. It is a place where elected members carry out their duties in accordance with the platform and so on that they were elected upon. I think you completely misunderstand the position, Mr Mulcahy.

I do recall attempting some years ago to toughen up the code of practice, and the numbers just were not there in the committee that I was involved in. It was a Democrat member who protested in those days, and I wondered at the time why it was, because the Democrats always seemed to be the ones that kept the bastards honest. But it became clearer later on—the Democrats were involved in this process themselves in their internal structures. This is one of the problems with these things: when you get people in the balance of power in a situation like the Senate, the club tends to protect people. Members do not want to upset that particular senator because he might have the numbers one day on a particular matter.

The very same thing happened in this place. At one stage I think about eight members in this place were employing family members. It was like a Christmas dinner to come

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