Feedback on the National Integrity (Parliamentary Standards) Bill 2019

National Integrity (Parliamentary Standards) Bill 2019 has been introduced as part of a package of bills to ‘promote public confidence in the integrity of Parliament, the public sector and the democratic system’. It includes a code of conduct for parliamentarians and their staff; the proposal for a code of conduct for staff has also been recommended through the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service ‘Our Public Service. Our future’ (though it has been rejected by the Government).  

Key issues identified in the bill: 

The package for the National Integrity (Parliamentary Standards) Bill 2019 includes: 

•         A statutory code of conduct which will apply equally to parliamentarians and staffers :

The enforceable code of conduct is contained in Part 2 and Clause 19 states ‘The duties and obligations of this Part apply to a person employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 as if that person were a parliamentarian’. 

Part 2 contains the following clauses: 

•    Upholding democracy and respecting others regardless of background

•    Conflicts of interest

•    Using position for profit

•    Outside employment and activities

•    Accepting any gift, hospitality or other benefit

•    Use of influence

•    Managing confidential and personal information

•    Post-retirement activities

CPSU advocates have concerns about how this could be applied, for example: a lack of clear distinction between staff and parliamentarians, a lack of clarity of ramifications if the code of conduct is contravened, and a void of clear safeguards in relation to confidentiality. 

More information on the Bill is available at https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_LEGislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=s1227

CPSU welcome changes to make sure there is integrity within Australian parliament and supports the creation of a well-funded, federal ICAC. As a member-led organization we would appreciate your feedback about the bill, particularly the code of conduct which could impact your working environment; we will be placing a submission to this bill and we want to ensure we capture our members' concerns aptly. Providing feedback to your union is easy, email Jananie.janarthana@cpsu.org.au by Tuesday 28th January 2020. If extra clarification is needed on any part of this bill and the info we have provided please email us and include your best contact details for us to call or email you back or feel free to reach out to an Employee Consultative Group member!