THE BUTTON / MISSEN PARLIAMENTARY INTEGRITY AWARDS FOR THE 43RD PARLIAMENT (DEC 2013)

AWARD CITATIONS

BUTTON AWARD –  The Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC

On 4.2.2013 the Hon Mark Dreyfus was appointed Attorney- General and on 2 March 2013 he was appointed Special Minister of State.  In the remaining months months of government that followed he discharged his role as a Minister in a manner that  demonstrated an outstanding commitment to serve the public interest in all four Award Criteria areas.

•    He successfully negotiated and secured the passage through the Parliament of the extensive and substantial amendments required to change an unworkable Whistleblower Protection Bill into a very effective one – a reform that will greatly strengthen our government integrity system. This was achieved notwithstanding significant long standing and continuing resistance within sections of the executive government and the Parliament for nearly 20 years.

•     He also successfully negotiated and secured the passage of amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Law Enforcement Integrity, Vulnerable Witness Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2013 thereby significantly improving people’s rights and helping to strengthen the ability of our sole anti-corruption body, ACLEI, to discharge its role

•    He took up and considered a long neglected invitation from the government of the United States of America and that of the United Kingdom to join the new international body, the Open Government Partnership.  He recommended acceptance and secured the Government decision to do so.  In doing so, he thereby committed the Australian Government to securing transparent and accountable government in Australia in partnership with civil society and to encouraging and assisting governments around the world to achieve transparent and accountable government.

•    Notwithstanding significant budgetary constraints, he secured an increase in funding in a number of areas of legal aid, so aiding the justice system and people’s rights.

•    He secured a commitment from the government to pursue uniform laws to protect journalists’ sources and placed the matter on the agenda for the next Standing Council on Law and Justice meeting thereby creating the opportunity to enhance the fourth estate’s ability to hold governments and parliaments to account.

His commitment to the public interest in the Criteria’s areas has been of long-standing and had been demonstrated, for example, in his work as chair of the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee, in particular, its enquiry into and unanimous 2009 Report on Whistleblower Protection in the previous Parliament.

Throughout his parliamentary career, he has demonstrated independence, honesty, civility, and courage and reflected the best traditions of service by a Member of Parliament to the Parliament and the people it is intended to serve.

MISSEN AWARD – The Hon Judi Moylan

The Hon. Judi Moylan has been a member of the House of Representatives  for 20 years holding successively in and between 1996 and 1998 2 portfolios  –  Minister for  Family Services and Minister for the Status of  Women.

In the 43rd Parliament, as a member of the Opposition she served as Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal affairs in the course of which, among other matters, she joined in one of its most important Reports affecting the government integrity system, the 2013 Report recommending amendments to salvage the whistleblower protection legislation and supported them in the Parliament.  She also supported the Committee’s proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act.  In addition she raised concerns about the lack of time being given to parliamentary committees to consider matters referred to them and proposed an audit of the powers of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies before legislating on their powers.

In the 43rd Parliament, she also sought to hold the government to account and to change policies both government and opposition in a number of areas.  In particular, she continued her attempts to de-politicise and change the policies of the Government and the Opposition in relation to asylum seekers. She co-led an informal working group of more than 30 members of Parliament comprising independents and members of parties seeking alternatives on issues of concern particularly off-shore processing, the conditions under which asylum seekers are kept, and the release of women and children into the community.  In doing so she continued her strong advocacy of the rights and welfare of children generally.

She also addressed the “welfare to work” proposals, crossing the floor  twice to vote against  her own party as well as the  government.  In addition, she questioned the effectiveness of government spending on indigenous housing and questioned a government proposal to empower a Cabinet committee to review, with a power of veto, recommendations to list medicines by the PBA Committee. She also challenged the proposal agreed to by her party and the government to marginally improve the transparency of political donations while increasing public funding of political parties.

The Hon Judi Moylan played an active role in contributing to the deliberations of Parliament and its committees.  In particular, she continued to chair the Parliamentary Diabetes Support Group and drew attention to a wide range of other issues including matters affecting people with disabilities including the special disability trust.  She called for the implementation of the 2008 report on Disability Trusts and sought and obtained budget changes to assist such Trusts.  She also raised a range of health issues including investigation of the issue of health effects of wind farms, noise amelioration at airports, food standards and labeling.

In the 43rd Parliament, at the end of a long and challenging political career, she continued to act with honesty, civility, independence and courage in demonstrating her outstanding commitment to the public interest as a member of the Parliament.

MISSEN AWARD

The Hon Melissa Parke

In the 43rd Parliament, the Hon. Melissa Parke resumed her role as a government backbencher and the positions she had held in the previous Parliament as Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and as a member of the Joint Standing Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. From March 2012 to February 2013 she also served on the inaugural Joint Human Rights Committee.

The ACLEI committee played an important government oversight role which included monitoring and reviewing the performance of ACLEI and the Integrity Commissioner, examining trends and changes in law enforcement, and monitoring and reviewing the support of ACLEI by government and the performance of agencies with a law enforcement function.

The Committee’s oversight role was made more difficult by the resistance to change within sections of the Executive branch, supported in official documents which praised the failed “multi-agency model” and denied the need to consider further action to address the growing risks of corruption.   There was also resistance among members of the Government and Opposition.  Despite that resistance, under Ms Parke’s impartial leadership, the Committee’s unanimous recommendations resulted in ACLEI’s direct oversight jurisdiction being extended from the initial AFP and the ACC to include Customs and later the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Austrac and Crimtrac. Subsequent criminal investigations of corruption have strongly vindicated the Committee’s recommendations.

The Government deferred consideration of the Committee’s recommendation that it examine the merits of establishing a Commonwealth integrity Commission with anticorruption oversight of all Commonwealth public sector agencies.  It did so pending implementation of a number of other measures then under consideration, including a national anti-corruption plan.

The Committee in a later report also recommended integrity testing to strengthen the anti-corruption system.  The government accepted the recommendation and enacted the necessary legislation.

Her direct support of transparent and accountable government has also included support within her party and in the Parliament for whistleblower protection and for the development of a code of conduct for members of Parliament.

The Hon. Melissa Parke’s contribution in the 43rd Parliament to debate, deliberations and policy has extended to other areas.  Her background as a senior UN Lawyer and her continued interest in, and knowledge of its work and global issues, has resulted in significant contributions by her on issues including nuclear non-proliferation, famine, polio eradication, slavery, heavily indebted poor countries and the Middle East.  As a member of the Foreign affairs, Defence and Trade Committee she raised issues of importance including Australia China relations and Australia’s relationship with African countries. She has been the secretary of the Australia-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Group and a member of the Global Organisation for Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC).  She also chaired the UN Parliamentary Group, the UNICEF Parliamentary Association and the Australian Branch of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA).

Her contribution to debate, deliberations and policy within and outside Parliament on significant world and domestic matters, at times challenged the government’s position and its administration of policy.   Matters have included the treatment of asylum seekers, the rights of children, minorities and indigenous people, and the issues of people trafficking, gene patents, animal welfare and the death penalty, as well as calling for a requirement for parliamentary approval for Australian troops to be sent overseas to war.

Earlier this year she was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health, Homelessness and Social Housing and, from 1 July 2013,   Minister for International Development.

Throughout the 43rd Parliament, she has continued to demonstrate an outstanding commitment to the public interest and performed her roles in the Parliament with honesty, civility, independence and political courage.