Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton has apologised after being found to have breached the member’s Code of Conduct with a social media video.
Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr referred Mr Parton to the Standards Commissioner after he posted a TikTok video of himself adjourning the Legislative Assembly as the Deputy Speaker in the Chair and then cutting to him eating KFC.
Ms Orr alleged that the video promoted a commercial product and therefore contravened the broadcasting guidelines and compromised the credibility of the Deputy Speaker role.
The Code of Conduct states broadcasts from the Assembly cannot be used for advertising or commercial sponsorships and Assembly recordings can only be used for “fair and accurate reports of proceedings”.
The Commissioner found that Mr Parton breached the broadcast guidelines and the Code of Conduct but said this resulted from a clear misunderstanding of the guidelines.
The Commissioner was also satisfied that Mr Parton does not hold have any commercial relationships with KFC but noted the video could create a perception that he had a relationship with KFC and that a conflict of interest may exist.
The Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure acknowledged that the Speaker had written to several members requesting social media posts that breached the guidelines be removed.
The Committee, chaired by Speaker Joy Burch, determined that Mr Parton should apologise to the Assembly after receiving the Commissioner’s report.
Mr Parton noted that non-Liberal members who had received a letter from the Speaker to remove posts from social media did not need to apologise in the Assembly.
The party would not refer other MLAs who received letters to take down content from the Speaker to the Standards Commissioner but reserved the right to do so in the future, he said.
Mr Parton delivered his unconditional apology in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday (5 August).
“I genuinely welcome this report because it marks a turning point. We have a review coming on this report about broadcasting guidelines,” he said.
“Although it is not for me to preempt any of the findings of that review, I live in the hope that at the end of it, we as MLAs will be able to share with more Canberrans actual footage of what we do. I believe that would be beneficial.
“A review of those broadcast guidelines is well overdue, noting the foundations of the guidelines were constructed at a much earlier point in our fast-moving social media journey. If the MLA who worked 33 years in mainstream media and ran a social media business is ruled to have misunderstood the guidelines, then I wish the best of luck to everyone else.”
It is not the first time the MLA’s TikTok account has gotten him into trouble. He was kicked out of the Assembly in early July for refusing to remove a TikTok video of him eating chicken satay and drinking Coke in his Assembly office. He was also fined for live-streaming himself answering questions on the app while driving.
Mr Parton is an avid consumer of KFC and frequently mentions the fast-food chain.