Page 3269 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017
No-one on either side of this chamber is immune from this scrutiny. Ministers and non-executive members of all parties are subject to community expectations, and none of us should take that for granted. There are numerous examples that come to mind where some members of this place, on all sides of the chamber, have failed to meet the public’s expectation when it comes to travel. But the intent of this is to make sure that there is a high bar set around what this parliament expects and what the community expects in relation to members of the Assembly, particularly the executive.
The activities undertaken and the moneys spent should also be no different to the expectations of private enterprise. This is the aspect of probity that needs to be clarified. It is common practice in many other parliaments to publish not just this level of detail but, in some jurisdictions, considerably more detail. At the commonwealth level, the Department of Finance reports six monthly all travel and entitlements by current and former members. Given that the entitlements in this place are considerably different, we think that the steps that the opposition are calling for to have a detailed reconciliation of any ministerial travel within 90 days of returning are quite appropriate steps. We are not creating any additional burden of paperwork or administration but simply an increased level of transparency around the work and the travel that is being undertaken on behalf of the territory.
We can look at examples such as Queensland, where the call there goes much further for the level of transparency required of ministers. Ministerial diaries are published each month. That identifies not just meetings and engagements whilst they are on a formal engagement and travel as a representative of their state but their day-to-day diaries for their ministerial offices.
The opposition at this point is certainly not going to request that length of openness and transparency. We are simply focused on making sure that there is better accountability of the expenses incurred during ministerial travel. I think in the private sector it is widespread practice that, if travel is to be undertaken, a detailed reconciliation of any expenses incurred would be provided. In the private sector in many instances it is commonplace for an individual wanting to travel to have to put forward a business case prior to booking or making any arrangements. It has to state the purpose of the trip, what the expected outcomes are and what the return on investment for the business or the enterprise might be. And if it does not make business sense, the travel is not approved and it does not go ahead.
We have very lenient guidelines in the ACT. Simply what we are calling for is a push model of information being made available, after the fact, that can lay on the table quite clearly the details of what travel has been undertaken, what expenses have been incurred by the territory, who has accompanied a minister on that travel and what expenses were borne by the territory for anyone else accompanying in that capacity.
In that sense I hope that all members of this place can see a way clear to lifting the bar of transparency and accountability of this Assembly and putting forward a new standard that all members will abide by from this point going forward. I commend my motion to the Assembly.