A National Symposium, Australia’s Public Integrity Institutions: Strengths, Weaknesses, Options was held in Canberra on 21 August 2018, auspiced by Griffith University Centre for Governance and Public Policy and Transparency International
Its purpose was to identify best practice in the design and work of Australia’s public integrity organisations.
ART member Ken Coghill contributed a paper, “Strengthening integrity assurance for parliament and politics”, setting the standards of our integrity organisations in the context of international standards.
This paper examines some of the factors that can affect the integrity of parliament and by extension, politics.
A key factor in assuring integrity is the trust that citizens place in their parliament. This in turn is a product of the conduct of the parliamentarians who constitute each house of the particular parliament.
This conduct is of two types: (i) the manner in which parliamentarians approach their responsibilities to represent, make or unmake government, legislate (including budget-making), scrutinise the Executive, and address grievances; (ii) the ethical standards that parliamentarians apply to their personal conduct whilst holding public office.
This conduct may be subject to two forms of control (i.e. regulation): the common law public trust principle whereby parliamentarians are public officers entrusted with responsibility for the public trust; and, codes of conduct (and like instruments) which guide parliamentarians’ personal conduct, provide for investigation of alleged breaches and enable sanctions for breaches.
This paper reports research into codes of conduct, provisions for investigations and sanctions adopted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Recommendations are made for the design and enforcement of codes of conduct with the aim of enhancing trust in parliaments.