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The Forum > Article Comments > The letter of the law > Comments

The letter of the law : Comments

By David Russell, published 31/5/2012

Parliamentarians who can't be trusted to act ethically will only find loopholes in codes of conduct.

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< Parliamentarians who can't be trusted to act ethically will only find loopholes in codes of conduct. >

Canít agree with that.

Hey, it is truly staggering that parliamentarians donít have a code of conduct. All public servants do. How can they not have one??

A good code of conduct wouldnít have loopholes. Codes of conduct for the public service have been refined over many years. It would surely not take too much effort to adapt this to suit parliamentarians.

The critical problem with public service codes of conduct is that (in my situation and I presume just about across the board), they are not worth the paper they are written on! Not because they arenít comprehensive and well written, but because the management regime is just disgraceful.

Numerous times in my 23 years in the Queensland public service, I witnessed senior managers just completely ignore the code and behave in a manner totally irrespective of it, with impunity!

No one seemed to be willing to uphold it!

However in parliament it would surely be totally different, where we have two parties only too willing to jump on any member of the other party who steps out of line, and who would therefore uphold the highest standard amongst their own members.

< What is needed is for our parliaments to demand a clear and very high standard of moral and ethical behaviourÖ >

Yes, but I disagree David that this is somehow at odds with a good code of conduct. It surely isnít. A code of conduct could surely only help in this regard.
Posted by Ludwig, Thursday, 31 May 2012 10:06:40 AM
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With all due respect to Mr Russell, the draft Code of Conduct for federal MPs' (and Senators) proposed in November last year is not 90 pages long, nor is it in any way 'complex'.

The Draft Code takes up some 3 pages of a 78-page Discussion Paper, which canvasses a wide range of approaches and submissions from (mostly) other Parliaments in the Commonwealth. See here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=pmi/index.htm

The Draft Code itself is based on an earlier draft prepared by a Parliamentary Committee in 1995, which appears to have been strongly influenced by the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994(Qld) which in turn is based on the draft Bill produced by EARC in 1991. The principles-based approach to codification adopted by these documents was also adopted in the 'Standards of Ministerial Ethics' brought in by the Rudd Government on coming into office in 2007. The Standards may be found here: http://www.dpmc.gov.au/guidelines/docs/ministerial_ethics.pdf

The general point to make about compliance with Ethics and integrity codes is that the important issue is not not how close you can get to 'the line' without offending, but how far away from it you can be.
Posted by Ethicos, Thursday, 31 May 2012 11:22:28 AM
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Thomson is not charged with using

$250,00 or $500,000 of any public money for anything, he is not accused of using that much money at all. That is a figure concocted entirely by the media and the AEC proved it to be patently false already.In fact the FWA report was not an investigation it was utter nonsense where Thomson is blamed for things that happened long after he left and where the reasoning behind the absurd claims amount to ""there were not rules, he broke them".

As for Peter Slipper, it is not possible to rort cab charge vouchers because the passenger never gets the money anyway and Ashby has withdrawn that bit.

As for the other crap, it was a set up by Chris Pyne, Eric Abetz and Mal Brough.

All this babble about codes of ethics, what about codes of ethics for bloviators who don't know any facts of anything but pretend they do.
Posted by Marilyn Shepherd, Thursday, 31 May 2012 5:21:16 PM
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private philosophy works it way into public policy. Just look at the recently gaoled State Government Pollies. Godless politicians bereft of personal morals have hijacked Australia. Unfortunately the public have been to blaise to be concerned about it. These Politicians are usually the ones championed by the press (especially National Broadcasters) as they feel it validates their own lifestyles. Codes of conduct just make a mockery of things encouraging political correctness such as we see with the AFL. They allow a man charged with chopping someone up with a machette to play football simply because he is not white anglo saxon. They do however have a code of conduct (yeah!). You would need to write the code from the satanic bible in order for some of our current pollie to be able to conform. Thankfully their are a few with integrity still. They are hard to find but just look to the ones that are mocked by the ABC and you can be pretty sure they are ok.
Posted by runner, Thursday, 31 May 2012 5:37:01 PM
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Hells bells Marilyn, what aaare your writing??

It is so close to being sensible that for the first time ever I can actually almost agree with you!! !! !!

You do surprise me enormously. Youíre not just entirely narrowly focussed on children in detention afterall.

Good!

Yes I think that we need to be very careful about the media and the opposing political party blowing things right out of all proportion as it concerns Thomson and Slipper, or any issues of this sort.

One thing that a code of conduct needs to cover is the actions of those who accuse others of wrong-doing. It should be an immediate violation of the code for someone to assert allegations against another person which are later shown to be false and spurious and hence vexacious.
Posted by Ludwig, Thursday, 31 May 2012 6:59:28 PM
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Heaven's Ludwig, we agree.

but you still want to jail children for no reason and that is certainly not ethical.

Ethics aren't a hand bag to be picked up and put down at will.
Posted by Marilyn Shepherd, Friday, 1 June 2012 5:13:45 AM
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