DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Fitzgerald Principles are four overarching statements of parliamentary transparency and accountability.

These principles are;

1. Govern for the peace, welfare and good government of the State;
2. Make all decisions and take all actions, including public appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party political
or other immaterial considerations;
3.Treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence; and
4.Promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions.

The Fitzgerald Principles began on 8th January 2015, with an open letter to leaders of Queensland’s political parties, signed by 50 prominent individuals, asking each “to commit to the following principles of accountability and good governance put forward by The Honourable Tony Fitzgerald AC QC. This letter was subsequently placed as an advertisement in the Courier Mail on 28th January 2015, this time signed by 22 prominent legal and civil society organisations. (See also TAI media release.28 Jan 2015).

Later the Australia Institute opened the letter to the public to sign.

Tony Fitzgerald followed the open letter with an opinion piece published in ABC News “The Drum” on 23rd of January 2015, “Queensland political ethics; a perfect oxymoron” elaborating on his thinking behind the principles and his reasons for writing them.

An early version of the principles can be found in the 2014 Griffith University Tony Fitzgerald Lecture, the text of which is reproduced in the Tasmanian Times.

Here his desired commitments are;

• the public to be fully and accurately informed promptly and not to be misled;
• all government decisions and actions to be taken for the common benefit without regard to personal, political or other considerations;
• all people to be treated equally with no person given special treatment or superior access or influence; and
• all public appointments to be made on merit.

UPDATE

The Australia Institute conducted a further survey of Parliamentarians commitments to good governance principles, signed by 37 prominent Australians, the results of which they released on 11th July 2017.

This time more principles were added, so that they now read that parliamentarians should commit;

  • To act honourably and fairly and solely in the public interest
  • To treat all citizens equally
  • To tell the truth
  • Not to mislead or deceive
  • Not to withhold or obfuscate information to which voters are entitled
  • Not to spend public money except for public benefit
  • Not to use your position or information gained from your position for your benefit or the benefit of a family member, friend, political party or other related entity

This time the survey was in advance of an effort to promote the idea of a “Federal ICAC” and a supporting conference, rather than an election.

RELATED LINKS

Tim Smith – Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – “Democracy at the Crossroads?”

Tim Smith – Reforming the Policy Processes of our Democracies

Queensland Election – Tony Fitzgerald on the erosion of accountability and integrity in QLD