Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 August 2017) . . Page.. 3272 ..
In the ACT, with a smaller number of ministers, ministers in this jurisdiction have traditionally been on more ministerial councils than those in larger jurisdictions. I remember at one point in my career I was on 11 COAG ministerial councils. Most ministers in other jurisdictions would be on one, maybe two. I was on 11 at one stage. Clearly, now with the portfolio responsibilities I have, including first ministers meetings, Treasury, economic development, tourism and industry and skills meetings and the like, I do not think I am quite up to 11 but I still have more COAG ministerial council responsibilities than most ministers in any state or territory government and, indeed, at the commonwealth level across this country.
It is worth noting, of course, that the approval, reconciliation and acquittal process for ministerial travel is rigorous and provides a very high degree of transparency. As I have mentioned, it is reported publicly every six months via the Assembly website, and these reports identify by minister the dates, location and reason for travel and the break up the cost between the travel costs—principally air fares but on occasion train fares and self-drive—and the travel allowances that are paid in accordance with the Remuneration Tribunal’s determinations.
There will be further changes that will come into place from 1 July 2018 that will extend reporting to include staff accompanying ministers. Public servants who accompany ministers also report on travel through the annual reporting process. And expenditure is clearly stated in annual reports each year.
I think overall the territory’s system of reporting, reconciliation and acquittal is of the highest standards. The ministerial code of conduct certainly puts a significant onus on ministers and me, as Chief Minister in approving overseas travel, to ensure that we meet the high level of rigour and accountability that is expected under the code.
For these reasons I believe that the amendment that I have moved to Mr Wall’s motion reflects current high standards of practice and, as I have outlined in my remarks today, there will be further reforms in this area that will commence on 1 January 2018. I commend my amendment to the Assembly.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (5.10): The Greens are, of course, highly supportive of integrity measures in this Assembly and, therefore, the ACT and we have worked consistently over the two decades that we have been here to improve accountability processes in this place. Some of the things that we have worked on in this time include improving the lobbyist register. As I discussed earlier today, on Mr Wall’s last motion, we were the first party to call for an independent integrity commission, and I think it is very positive that that is where all three parties landed and we now have a tripartite committee working on designing that process. I am optimistic that we will get a good outcome there.
We have pushed for our oversight bodies to become officers of the parliament—the Electoral Commissioner, the Auditor-General—to provide them with a degree of independence from the executive to fulfil their very important roles. As I also touched on this morning, we pursued the ban on corporate donations, which we agreed to in time for the 2012 election but which was overturned in the previous Assembly.