Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has announced her plans for an integrity framework for the ACT Government and Public Service:
A refreshed and modern Ministerial Code of Conduct has been developed, following recent reforms on this front in other jurisdictions, along with a new Code of Conduct for Ministerial Staff which has been released in draft form pending discussions with staff and their union.
“These codes are designed to address any possible issues when accepting a Ministry and appointing and managing staff. Following the McLeod Report, I have also written to the Speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly urging that the non-executive MLA’s Code of Conduct be reviewed prior to the 2012 Assembly Election and also consider a Code of Conduct for staff as well.
“In addition to the revised Codes of Conduct, it is important that standards of behaviour by MLA’s in relation to transparent policy development is above reproach and that no government should leave room for improper influence which undermines our democratic system of representative government.
“With the emergence of professional lobbyists, it is important that MLAs are provided the tools to discover who is a genuine voice in the crowd. I believe that the time has come to establish a lobbyist register. Whilst this could be done by the ACT Executive alone, I think that in a small Legislature like the ACT Assembly, where MLA’s chair influential committees and can introduce Private Members Bills, a lobbyist register would need to cover all MLA’s. As such, I have also written to the Speaker on this matter and have offered to work in partnership with him to get this in place as soon as possible,” the Chief Minister said.
The ACT Government has also agreed to provide additional funding of $1 million over four years to the Auditor General and the $400,000 over four years to the ACT Ombudsman – both whom perform critical oversight functions. The funding will ensure principles of integrity and probity across government are maintained and ensure external accountability.
Within the ACT Public Service the Head of Service and Commissioner for Public Administration have already commenced a process to develop a formal ACTPS Code of Conduct, building on the Respect, Equity and Diversity Framework established in 2010. Work is also underway in examining the scope for the Commissioner’s role to include a role in setting, and enforcing, public sector standards.
The new Public Interest Disclosure legislation which we have been consulting on since releasing the exposure draft in December 2011 will also be introduced into the Assembly prior to the 2012 Assembly Election.