Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 21 August 2008) . . Page.. 3415 ..
Mr Smyth: In future, will such direction be given, for instance, to members of the Labor Party who receive benefit from poker machines, when we have poker machine legislation?
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Smyth—
Mr Smyth: This is absolutely outrageous.
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, I have given an order.
Mr Hargreaves: Sit down. How stupid is that?
Mr Smyth: How stupid are you?
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, I have given a ruling. You can move against my ruling if you wish, but the ruling is in place.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.37): The government will be supporting this bill. The principles outlined in Mr Berry’s bill are straightforward ones. They provide for protections against inappropriate relationships when it comes to the contractual obligations that members enter into when they employ staff. In particular, the bill provides for a prohibition on the employment of certain familial relations on the staff of a member.
These protections have been in place in one form or another in this place for some time, most recently in the code of conduct for members. However, Mr Berry is proposing in his bill that this be extended and be given statutory effect by being provided for in the Legislative Assembly (Members’ Staff) Act.
The government supports this change. We believe it is desirable to put beyond doubt the question of the inappropriateness of employing close family members on the staff of MLAs. The points made by Mr Berry in his introductory speech are to be commended in that he highlighted the ability of such employment arrangements to undermine public confidence in the way members conduct themselves and the way their staff conduct themselves on a member’s behalf. It also raises the prospect of nepotism, and that is one that can call into question the standing of members and the standing of this place.
For those reasons, we believe it is appropriate to enact this change into law and to make it clear once and for all that it is not appropriate for members of the Legislative Assembly to employ close family members in the conduct of their duties. The government will be supporting the bill.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.39): The Liberal Party will not be supporting this bill. We do not believe it is necessary to put this into legislation. Indeed, it is interesting to see the Labor Party trying to catch up to the stand that the Liberal Party took more than four years ago. We already have an agreement among members that they will not employ family members.