The Accountability Round Table is once again calling for nominations for two awards to mark those members of Parliament worthy of recognition for their commitment to honest, transparent and accountable government and the parliamentary system.
In the turmoil of Federal Parliament since 2010, which politicians have stood out for their integrity and respect for the political process?
Launching this year’s awards, the chairman of the ART, Mr Tim Smith QC, said: “This Parliament has thrown up a number of significant challenges for us the voters, our elected representatives and the media ranging from the working of a minority government and the role of independents to the embracing of American-style negative tactics in the political process and the role of the media in covering the dynamics of this political scene.
“With the negative focus of the politicians and the media, it is not surprising we seem to have become thoroughly disillusioned with the process. We are left with the impression that none of our elected representatives act with integrity.
“This impression is wrong. There are members of the Federal Parliament who discharge their public trust and its responsibilities with integrity, often at considerable cost to themselves. We don’t hear about them. We should recognise and acknowledge them.
“To quote former Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason, when presenting the inaugural awards in 2010, ‘The object of the awards is to offer public recognition and support to those members of parliament whose service to the public bears the hallmark of integrity. It is hoped the awards will focus attention on the vital importance of integrity and accountability in public life, encourage public understanding and discussion of government accountability issues, and in this way counter the growing cynicism about our parliamentary democracy’. ”
The awards honour two former Senators, John Button and Alan Missen. The Button Award is for Ministers and Shadow Ministers and their Parliamentary Secretaries and the Missen awards for all other members of the Commonwealth Parliament. They were first awarded in 2010, to Senator John Faulkner and now retired backbencher Petro Georgiou.
Nominations will close on 6 June and the winners announced on 26 June in Parliament House Canberra. Details including the relevant criteria to be addressed in any nomination can be found on the Accountability Round Table website www.accountabilityrt.org.
The selection committee for the awards comprises Mr Tim Smith, Mr Jim Carlton, Ms Lyn Allison, Associate Professor Ken Coghill, Professor Charles Sampford, Mr Harry Evans and Dr David Solomon.