Colleen Lewis, an ART member, argues that appointing a Victorian Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards would help to save politicians from their own contribution to their poor reputation.

“It would serve Victorian MPs well if they placed their own integrity high on that same agenda. This could be done in a number of ways.  For example, all parliamentarians could make a written commitment to appoint a Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards within the next 12 months. This is not a radical proposal. The Legislative Assembly’s Privileges Committee, when reporting on the Geoff Shaw matter, recommended the appointment of such a person. A Commissioner for Standards, among other things, could assist MPs in resolving conflict of interest matters and other ethically charged issues.

Political parties, to which the vast majority of MPs belong, should make very clear, prior to the election, their core and non-core commitments.  In other words, what they guarantee to do, as opposed to what they would like to achieve if elected to government. The community is intelligent and will accept a well-reasoned argument and explanation as to why some policies are classified as essential while others can only have desirable status. After all, community members often have to accept such divisions in their own lives. What they will not accept is broken commitments wrapped up in spin. ”

She also argues that perhaps we as voters stereotype politicians as self-serving and make demands that are too complex or extensive of them. Attention to whether our own perspective is reasonable would help.


Share This