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Review of the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1978
- 9 December 2009 - Parliamentary Committee calls for stronger ethics laws for MPs
- 17 April 2009 - Review of the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1978
From Johan Scheffer MLC, Chair
9 December 2009
The Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform Committee has released its final report on its review of the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1978.
Committee Chair, Johan Scheffer, said that the 30 year old Act has served Victoria well and that a review of the Act was due.
The Act sets out a code of conduct for members of parliament in Victoria and requires them to disclose personal interests that have the potential to conflict with their public duties, such as land and shareholdings, in a public register.
“The Victorian Parliament was the first in Australia to adopt a code of conduct and register of interests in 1978 and overall, the evidence indicates that this state has a good record on parliamentary standards,” Mr Scheffer said.
The Committee spoke to current and former members of parliament, the media, academic experts, community organisations and ethicists about the Act.
“Victorian MPs in general uphold high standards in carrying out their duties, but in some areas they face increasing pressures and would be better served by an updated code of conduct and advice from a suitably qualified ethics adviser.”
The Committee’s report makes 35 recommendations. They include:
- a new statement of values which sets out important democratic values for members of parliament, such as serving the public interest and integrity
- a broader code of conduct containing enforceable rules about issues such as managing conflicts of interest, personal conduct and using public resources
- changes to make the existing register of members’ interests more effective
- better information, training and advice for members of parliament about ethics
- a stronger system for dealing with alleged breaches of the code.
The Committee has recommended the Victorian Government releases an exposure draft of the proposed changes and consults further with the community and members of parliament.
The Victorian Government has six months to table a response to the Committee’s recommendations in the Parliament.
A copy of the Committee’s report can be obtained from the Committee’s website http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/archive/lawreform or by contacting the Committee on 8682 2851.
For further information or comment contact Ms Kerryn Riseley, Executive Officer, Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee: 8682 2851
From Johan Scheffer MLC, Chair
17 April 2009
The Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform Committee today called for public submissions to its review of the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1978.
The Chair of the Committee, Mr Johan Scheffer, said that, “The Act is concerned with provisions that deal with the code of conduct and the register of interests for members of parliament.”
Mr Scheffer said the Victorian Parliament was the first in Australia to introduce a code of conduct and register of interests for MPs in 1978 but the laws have not been updated since.
“The code sets out some basic standards of conduct for MPs such as ensuring their public duty is not compromised by conflicting private interests,” Mr Scheffer said.
The register of interests requires MPs to put on the public record their financial and other interests, such as land and shareholdings, that have the potential to conflict with their public duties.
In 2008, the Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee recommended the Victorian Government update the reporting requirements for members of parliament contained within the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1978.
The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee also recommended the Government update the code of conduct for members of parliament as contained in the Act.
The Law Reform Committee invites members of the public to make submissions on:
- the standards of conduct expected of MPs in Victoria
- the types of interests MPs or their families should have to disclose on the register
- whether there should be an independent person to advise MPs about ethical issues related to the code of conduct or the register of interests.
“The review is a chance for Victorians to have their say about the standards they expect from their representatives in the Victorian Parliament,” Mr Scheffer said. “The Committee wants to hear from as wide a range of people as possible.”
The closing date for written submissions is 29 May 2009. The Committee will be holding public hearings before tabling its final report and recommendations later this year.
Advice about how to make a submission to the Committee, and copies of the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1978, are available on the Law Reform Committee’s website at www.parliament.vic.gov.au/archive/lawreform.
For further information or comment contact Ms Kerryn Riseley, Executive Officer, Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee: 8682 2851.