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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

NSW Premier Baird needs no hand with intergrity

Premier Baird had a good win in the NSW election on 28 March and has since announced a new ministry "A Fresh team for Rebuilding NSW."  The team consists of 22 ministers who between them carry 45 titles (Minister Goward has five) plus 16 parliamentary secretaries. 

Regrettably no one is singled out for special responsibility for integrity and related matters.

The Premier has previously stepped up on political donations and lobbying but there's still much to be done  and a co-ordinated approach would be a sign of serious intent. Maybe Catherine Cusack who has no specifics in her job title of Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier may take this on board?

During the campaign Premier Baird declined to sign the Politicians' Pledge promoted by the St James Ethics Center. 

So did all but three of his Liberal/National Party colleagues. Two of the three feature in the front bench lineup: Mark Speakman Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, and Assistant Minister for Planning and John O'Dea Parliamentary Secretary for Major Events and Tourism.

Prior to the election the Liberal Party did respond to questions from the Accountability Roundtable confirming no plans to diminish the powers of the ICAC; support for further reform of political donations law; commitment to open data and open government; acknowledging "public office is a privilege and that the exercise of power as a public office holder should and will always be made in the public interest"; and vowing "to clean up politics in NSW."

All to the good. 

But in a state with more than its share of dodgy business in recent years from those in both major parties NSW should follow the lead of the two other new state governments where the premier assigned specific responsibilty for integrity and transparency matters.

In Victoria Gavin Jennings is Special Minister of State, operating within the Premier's portfolio  to "oversee government transparency, integrity, accountability and public sector administration and reform." In Queensland  the Premier is supported by Assistant Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe who will "directly assist me on integrity and accountability issues."

Good luck to us all.

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