Page 430 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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Members should be transparent in, and accountable for, their decisions and actions, should avoid or appropriately resolve any actual or reasonably perceived conflicts of interest and should submit themselves to appropriate scrutiny.

Consistent with the above principles—

still quoting from the code of conduct—

Members further undertake that they should:

Actively seek—

actively seek—

to prevent any conflict of interest, or the perception of such a conflict, arising between their duties as a Member and their personal affairs and interests, take all reasonable steps to resolve any such conflict or perception of a conflict that does arise.

Madam Speaker, in that context, I ask this question: what other convicted offender of a very serious crime in the ACT gets to unlawfully and inappropriately interact on numerous occasions with ACT schoolchildren and then has a reference written for him, at the request of the education minister, based on that interaction with schoolchildren that is then used as evidence to support that sentencing hearing? I quote from the Canberra Times:

A mother approaching an organisation or an acquaintance to help out a son in trouble is nothing surprising or necessarily inappropriate. But when you are a minister of the government and the organisation is funded by the government, the premise is utterly different. And when you are an education minister with a son improperly in schools without the required documentation, the issue is more serious still.

The community needs to be assured that a member of this place has not used their position as a member or as a minister to secure a benefit for a family member in a very serious breach of ethics, integrity and both the ministerial and members code of conduct.

I make no judgement on the individual concerned and acknowledge that the error was not his intent. Ultimately, this is a matter not of his actions but of those of the minister and her direct conflict of interest.

The minister has stated that this was simply a matter between the individual and Menslink, and that she had no role. But that is not compatible with the fact that it was the minister who asked Menslink for the reference for the individual. I quote from her own statement:

… I approached the CEO …

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