Page 3787 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013
The other interesting removal through the amendment is what was formerly paragraph (17), which I will read out. It says that members will undertake, further, that they will:
Use the public resources (whether staff, financial or material) to which they are provided access as a Member:
(a) only for the purposes for which they are provided;
(b) in accordance with the terms and conditions on which they are provided; and
(c) in a manner designed to make effective, efficient and economic use of those resources.
Again, this is a paragraph that has been deleted in the proposed amendment. I think it is a paragraph that would be worth keeping, in the sense that, clearly, we have seen recent examples of members who have struggled with that—members who have found it is appropriate to attend a friend’s wedding at public expense. I actually think that is a reasonably straightforward one. There are times when, for members, there are expenses or travel that we might undertake where perhaps it is a little bit unclear as to whether they are within the guidelines. Simply attending somebody’s wedding overseas, even if they are a parliamentary colleague, does seem to be a little bit beyond the necessity of parliamentary duty. And trying to tack on a meeting with a local councillor or some other frankly pathetic excuse really does not cut it. I think that, for members, there are some really obvious boundaries. Again, all of us have a duty to reflect carefully on those.
I reflect similarly on the recent example that was provided—and it was one that particularly struck me, having participated in similar events—where the Prime Minister claimed the expenses for attending and participating in the Ironman event in Port Macquarie. Having done half-a-dozen Ironmans myself, I have a fair idea of what is involved in going to those events. If the Prime Minister had been invited to present the awards at the end because he was the Prime Minister then fair enough; he was going there for his parliamentary duty. In fact, he was the Leader of the Opposition at the time. But there was nothing in his parliamentary duties that required him to participate in the Ironman—not one thing. Yes, he probably had some constituents approach him while he was there. I am sure he spoke to people in the community while he was there. But it seems entirely obvious. If we want to use the same standard––
Mr Smyth: A point of order.
MADAM SPEAKER: A point of order, Mr Smyth.
Mr Smyth: Madam Speaker, the motion is about a code of conduct for members of the ACT Assembly. I would ask for your guidance on how this code of conduct will apply to the Prime Minister, who is not a member of this place, and ask the member to be relevant.