Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 3 August 2016) . . Page.. 2184 ..
We had had tripartisan agreement in the Seventh Assembly to set a cap on donations of $10,000 and to limit donations to those on the ACT electoral role. We had reached that point, and now we are at a point where donations can come in from anyone for any amount. That is not a position that I supported in representing the Greens this time; it was a position all three parties supported last. I am disappointed that we have gone backwards when it comes to that element of our Electoral Act because it opens a gap that did not need to be opened.
I conclude by saying this: the Greens want the community to have confidence in every part of government in the ACT. I look forward to discussing the details of our independent integrity commission to maintain standards of conduct, propriety and ethics in the ACT’s public service, agencies and politicians in the coming months with members of the community as I put forward the case as to why we believe that is a mechanism that adds to the systems we already have in place and fills some important roles we believe are not currently filled in the governance framework of the territory.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.35): I am happy to talk to the amendment and close. I will not be supporting the amendment because it really goes away from the intent of the motion, which is to make sure that we acknowledge that increased funding is required for the Auditor-General to perform her important roles in both performance audits and also public interest disclosures, that we acknowledge that we need the public service commissioner to have the independence that then gives her the ability to act without feeling that she has essentially got a conflict of interest and that we make sure, more importantly, that anyone that approaches that individual does so knowing that they have got rigorous independence.
The motion does note a number of integrity measures that have been put in place but I would make the point that these have been put in place by the Assembly, not by the government—the Ethics and Integrity Adviser, the Commissioner for Standards and so on. The recommendations of the public accounts committee that arose from the 2016 strategic review—and I talked about that in my speech as well—calls for that extra funding. Simply noting it, as Mr Rattenbury has done, does not actually result in anything. In my first budget reply in 2013, I said we need to have more funding for the Auditor-General and I called for an independent public service commissioner—this is not new—and the government has been mulling that for 3½ years now. That is not good enough, and simply putting an amendment that says, “We will think further about it,” clearly shows no will and no preparedness to actually reinforce those important integrity structures. I think that we have reached a point where our positions are locked in, in the lead-up to the election.
There is one remaining issue that is going to be resolved and that is the FOI bill that Mr Rattenbury tabled and which was going to be debated this week. That has been deferred now until next week to allow me to catch up with Mr Rattenbury to see whether we can support it. I would agree with Mr Rattenbury that there is room for improvement in our FOI legislation. Whether the bill that is being presented is the right bill and whether we can actually get that done next week remains to be seen but certainly we will be looking to enhance FOI legislation.