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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Integrity, accountability and transparency in the frame

The Labor Party - Greens Agreement "designed to establish a basis for stable and effective government" gets off to a great start, putting transparent and accountable government and improved process and integrity of parliament up there in lights as the first principles that underpin the deal.  For this reason, and acknowledging much of this is still general in nature, it's somewhat surprising that whistleblowers legislation, associated issues like draconian penalties for disclosure without authorisation, and a bigger leap forward than in the pipeline on Freedom of Information law or practice didn't get a run.

Transparency for parliament itself particularly for parliamentarians in the use of public money, and lobbyists only get a mention in connection with a welcome plan to appoint a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner to "provide advice, administration and reporting on parliamentary entitlements to report to the Parliament" (sic), and to investigate and provide advice to parliamentarians on ethical issues; and to "uphold the Parliamentary Code of Conduct and to control and maintain the Government’s lobbyists register." (Let's hope we get a bit further than that on lobbying.)
There is plenty of good news. Here are other extracts that relate to integrity issues:

Seek immediate reform of funding of political parties and election campaigns by legislating to lower the donation disclosure threshold from an indexed $11,500 to $1,000; to prevent donation splitting between different branches of political parties; to ban foreign donations; to ban anonymous donations over $50; to increase timeliness and frequency of donation disclosure; to tie public funding to genuine campaign expenditure and to create a ‘truth in advertising’ offence in the Commonwealth Electoral Ac immediate reform of funding of political parties and election campaigns and more timely disclosure, parliamentary reforms.

Seek further reform of funding of political parties and election campaigns by having a truly representative committee of the Parliament conduct a national inquiry into a range of options with the final report to be received no later than 1 October 2011, enabling any legislative reform to be dealt with in 2012. The Parties note that the Greens are predisposed to a system of full public funding for elections as in Canada.(A limit on expenditure needs to be part of all this.)

Refer issues of public interest disclosure, where the Senate or House votes on the floor against the decision of a Minister, to the Information Commissioner, who will arbitrate on the release of relevant documents and report to both Houses.( This ran into a brick wall in the last parliament.)

The agreement includes a raft of commitments  to implement parliamentary reforms.

My little list  now has quite a few ticks.  What else will get thrown into the mix as both major parties search for the elusive 76 seats?

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