Vic election 2010 Party promises to ART.

The Art seeks a public commitment from all parties to restore open, responsible and accountable government by
1.    adopting the Solomon Report and enacting the Right to Information legislative model adopted in Queensland and Tasmania (Appendix A)
2.    restoring Westminster principles by
a)    recommitting to the principles of ministerial accountability and responsibility (Appendix B)
b)    committing to the rejection of the so-called McMullan Principle as being inconsistent with the right and duty of the Parliament to seek information to enable it to hold ministers and the Executive to account (Appendix C)
and to do so by implementing a Ministerial Code (and Ministerial Staff Code re b)) giving effect to those commitments and doing so in legislation in a manner similar to the current Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament.

We have replies to date from the Greens, the National Party and as of 17th November 2010, the Labor Party. On 19th November the Liberal Party added to the National’s response. On 22nd November we received a backgrounder on the Liberals proposed IBAC, attached.

The Greens – Summary (Full document attached)

1.       Right to Information

The Greens want the Freedom of Information (FoI) regime to be a point of last resort. A proactive disclosure of government information should be publicly available because ultimately all such information is owned by, and belongs to the public.

2.        Restoring Accountable and Responsible Government

The Greens support ministerial codes and ministerial/adviser staff codes forming schedules to the Members of Parliament (Standards) Bill. This will allow codes binding the executive to be controlled by Parliament.

3.        The ‘McMullan’ Principle

Greg Barber MLC’s minority report into the ‘Windsor affair’ clearly states the Greens’ position on the accountability of ministerial staff – they are not immune to the Parliament’s powers to compulsorily summon witnesses.

The National Party – Summary (Full document attached)

  • Advisors should give evidence in cases like the “Windsor affair”
  • We have already committed to a wide ranging series of changes to FOI access
  • We have led the way in the proposal to have an Independent Broad Based Anti Corruption Commission in Victoria.

The Liberal Party – Summary (Full document attached)

Andrew McIntosh noted, “Peter Ryan has replied on behalf of the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition rather than just the National Party. As the Shadow Minister for Integrity in Government, I would just reiterate the points made by Peter and expand slightly on them.”

The Coalition has committed to:

  • Overhauling Freedom of Information legislation. The first step will be the establishment of a FOI Commissioner. This will have the effect of preventing Government from suppressing information for political reasons
  • To ensure that the Executive is accountable, the Coalition is committed to a Ministerial Code of Conduct which would include staff and about which more will be revealed when the details of the Coalition’s anti-corruption model is announced shortly.
  • A Coalition Government will establish a genuine anti-corruption commission that will be in line with international best practice rather than the Clayton’s version proposed by Labor which fails to apply the same level of scrutiny to members of Parliament, notably ministers, as the rest of the public sector. The details of the Coalition’s anti-corruption commission will be announced shortly.
  • The Coalition will establish a register of lobbyists and a ban on lobbyist success fees to ensure the highest standards of probity and integrity in government decision-making.
  • The Coalition will end the abuse of government advertising for political purposes by establishing a review panel to scrutinise taxpayer-funded advertising.

The Labor Party – Summary (Full document attached)

1.       Right to Information

Labor is determined to keep improving Freedom of Information. We are open to further legislative reform and are more than ready to examine the models adopted in Queensland and Tasmania.

2.        Restoring Accountable and Responsible Government

Labor has recently released an exposure draft of the Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner (PIC) legislation. After incorporating feedback from the community, a future Brumby Labor Government would introduce a final version of the legislation to Parliament in early 2011.

3.        The ‘McMullan’ Principle

Labor would support clarifying the rules by which Ministers provide evidence to Parliamentary Committees and the checks and balances that prevent such hearings (the inquiry by the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration into the redevelopment of the Windsor Hotel) degenerating into witch hunts. Formalising the rules in relation to putting written questions to advisers through their Minister would be a way of adapting the McMullan Principle without subjecting staff to political accountability which must rest with the Minister.

Related Documents

Victoria Greens Election transparency promises

Vic National Party Election Transparency Promises

ALP Victoria ART Responses

Vic election Liberal Coalition response

Vic Election Lib IBAC Backgrounder

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