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Monday, December 31, 2007

Rudd tells ministers actions must be open to public scrutiiny

Summer holiday Blog

The full text, of the Prime Minister's
'Standards of Ministerial Ethics', announced on 6 December, subsequently made it onto his department's website. (I know the PM has been busy and it is summertime, but it sure is taking time to get the new government websites fully up and running).

We mentioned at the time some of the Standard's key provisions. The detail about contact with lobbyists, conflict of interest and post ministerial employment is of particular significance.

What the Standard says about ministerial accountability is worth highlighting as the Rudd Government starts to get on with the job in 2008:
"Ministers must accept accountability for the exercise of the powers and functions of their office - that is, to ensure that their conduct, representations and decisions as Ministers, and the conduct, representations and decisions of those who act as their delegates or on their behalf - are open to public scrutiny and explanation". (1.3(iii)).

Ministers are required to provide an honest and comprehensive account of their exercise of public office, and of the activities of the agencies within their portfolios, in response to any reasonable and bona fide enquiry by a member of the Parliament or a Parliamentary Committee" (4.4).

Ministers are expected to conduct all official business on the basis that they may be expected to demonstrate publicly that their actions and decisions in conducting public business were taken with the sole objective of advancing the public interest".(6.1.)

"Advice (about any issue concerning implementation of the Standard) received by the Prime Minister from the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet may be made public by the Prime Minister, subject to proper considerations of privacy". (7.4).
We'll be watching in hopeful expectation that a new era of transparency is about to dawn.

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