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Thursday, February 05, 2015

For the pollies who listen, time for the Minister for Integrity.

The whiff of interest in such things is getting stronger. Except on the Federal scene where we have a trust deficit disaster.

Victoria put integrity up in lights with the appointment of a Special Minister of State responsible for a wide range of integrity measures. Gavin Jennings ranks third in the ministerial line up, not as an add on at the bottom of the list.

Integrity and accountability are certain to feature in the forthcoming NSW campaign with the major parties both desperate to ditch the baggage opened up by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Labor made much of these issues in the incredible Queensland campaign. 

Commitments to improve integrity measures there proved crucial in winning Independent Peter Wellington's support for a Palaszczuk government, announced today.

In an exchange of letters the leader of the opposition, within two seats of a majority, reaffirmed the commitment to the Fitzgerald Principles; undertook to reintroduce a $1000 disclosure threshold for political donations and to work with the Electoral Commission to develop a real time online disclosure of donations; ensure the anti corruption watchdog, to be headed by a new independent chair, holds a public inquiry into the links if any between donations to political parties and the awarding of tenders, contracts and approvals; will make all public service appointments on merit; and explore a possible Bill of Rights In Queensland.

But not a word about such things so far in Prime Minister Abbott's look into the future with the emphasis on a 'safe and secure Australia', strong economy, jobs, families, and budget repair (without pain). 

This despite the pre election acknowledgement by Mr Abbott that the trust deficit was bigger than the budget deficit, and that commentators including Lenore Taylor now call it a trust deficit disaster.

The Abbott government should sniff the breeze: political donations, lobbying, transparency, supporting open government instead of closing down the information commissioner, an anti corruption plan to include an anti corruption body, upgrading whistleblower protection to best practice standard, a code of ethics for parliamentarians, signing on to the Open Government Partnership, engaging with the broader community on these and related issues. 

Best led and sheperded by a minister for integrity in name or in practice.

Federal Labor, about to see Senator for Integrity John Faulkner walk out the door any day now, shouldn't wait a moment to follow the Victorian brothers and sisters by tagging a top performer on the opposition front bench with these responsibilities. 

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