An ACT Greens crossbencher referred to the Legislative Assembly’s Commissioner of Standards has been cleared of breaching the members’ code of conduct.
Questions were raised by the Opposition in early May about whether it was appropriate for Johnathan Davis to include his Assembly contact details on a letter he’d sent to his constituents endorsing Federal Greens counterparts ahead of the election.
The Canberra Liberals argued Mr Davis had breached the members’ code of conduct by using publicly funded entitlements and resources in connection with election campaigning.
A letter had previously been circulated to members, advising them not to distribute mail for non-electorate or non-parliamentary activities.
The party’s whip Nicole Lawder took aim at Mr Davis for providing his parliamentary phone number and email and the address of the Assembly.
She said it amounted to an “appalling use of Assembly resources” and ACT taxpayer money.
“If you receive this letter in your mailbox and you have a suggestion or a question – where are you going to go?” she questioned.
“You’re going to call that number and it will be answered by Mr Davis or one of his Assembly staff – sitting in a lovely, climate-controlled building paid for by the ACT taxpayer … which Mr Davis is meant to be using for matters of the Assembly, not to promote his Federal counterparts.”
Ms Lawder referred to paragraph seven of the members’ code of conduct which stated members should only use the public resources they had access to “in a manner designed to make effective and efficient use of those resources”.
But Mr Davis said he’d included his details so constituents could contact him about local issues.
Commissioner for Standards Ken Crispin QC was not satisfied Mr Davis had breached his obligations and accepted the explanation.
Mr Davis had initially sought to self-refer the matter of the letter to the commissioner. He said he had already pursued the advice of the Assembly’s clerk and was “comfortable and confident” with the information he received.
“I’m very comfortable with accountability and transparency for my decisions and the decisions made by anyone else in this room,” Mr Davis told the Assembly.
However, the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure’s final report noted the commissioner could not investigate self-referred matters.
The committee recommended if members were uncertain about whether an item of correspondence or interaction on social media was in line with the code of conduct, they should seek advice from the ethics and integrity adviser.