MPs’ code on slow road
Government too busy, puts off draft for another year
A CODE of conduct for Tasmanian MPs has been put off for another year after the State Government did not deem it a high enough priority.
A parliamentary committee on integrity last year recommended a draft code be debated early in 2017 and adopted this year.
The committee wrote to parties and independents three times during the year to ask about progress.
In its second report on the code, tabled in Parliament last week, the committee recommends it now be implemented as a “matter of priority” by the end of 2018.
“The committee was quite disappointed in the fact that it hasn’t moved forward,” chairman Ivan Dean said.
The Tasmanian Integrity Commission reviewed codes of conduct for MPs, ministers and ministerial staff in 2016, producing a draft code.
The committee recommended a single code for all MPs be adopted after parties met to discuss its wording and debated it in Parliament.
Legislative amendments would then be needed allowing the Integrity Commission to investigate complaints by at least three members of Parliament into alleged breaches.
Tasmania is the only state or territory without a code for MPs in both houses.
In its letters, the committee told MPs they had been given a year to consider the draft code and minimal work would be required to enact it.
In October Labor moved to have the House of Assembly debate the change during the final sitting week of Parliament, but it was defeated.
Premier Will Hodgman wrote to Mr Dean in October indicating the Government’s “competing priorities” would not allow time for the code to be progressed.
In another letter to Mr Dean in November, he outlined difficulties the Government had with the committee’s original recommendations.
“With a number of existing members not recontesting, and the potential change of other seats due to the election, it would be preferable for this Parliament to not bind members of another to a new code at such a late stage,” Mr Hodgman wrote.
Members were bound by a Code of Ethical Conduct and Code of Race Ethics, Mr Hodgman said.
The Government has come under fire for making councils adhere to a code of conduct while failing to enact one for MPs.