Register of Members' Interests

Henare Degan edited this page Mar 10, 2011 · 1 revision

From "Report concerning the operations of the Committee of Members' Interests during 2007" http://wopared.parl.net/house/committee/pmi/reports.htm (aka www.aph.gov.au)

No change was made to the arrangements by which the register is maintained. Since 1986 arrangements approved by the Committee provide that the register may be inspected, by appointment, between 10 am and 12 noon and 2 pm and 4 pm on working days in the office of the Registrar. In addition the Registrar may grant permission for the register to be inspected outside of those hours if the Registrar is satisfied that the circumstances surrounding the request warrant the exercise of such a discretion. ...

5. The committee considered the arrangements for the compilation and maintenance of the register during the year. One complaint was received in respect to the conditions of access. The committee was briefed on the arrangements applying in other jurisdictions and discussed considerations concerning and options for the compilation of and access to the register. Following consideration at two meetings no change was determined in respect to the arrangements, so that the key conditions remains as follows: inspections between 10am and 12noon and 2pm and 4pm on working days, but with appointments able to be made outside these hours, and with persons inspecting the register being allowed to make notes but not make photocopies of the declarations. (Copies of returns and alterations are available, after tabling, through the Table Office – see below).

... 6. In total the register was inspected on ninety-one occasions during the year. These inspections take no account of the use of copies of statements of interests and notifications of alterations of interests tabled by the Chair and made available through the Table Office.

Table of Contents

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http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/practice/chapter2.htm#per

Personal or pecuniary interest and related matters

In the House of Representatives the treatment of the personal and pecuniary interests of Members of Parliament is governed by precedent and practice established in accordance with sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution, standing orders 134 and 231 and resolutions of the House.187 The question of the interests of Ministers is of greater importance than that of other Members, having regard to the paramount place of Ministers in the decision-making process. The question has arisen from time to time in the House of Representatives and, on occasions, the Prime Minister of the day has stated the general understanding which the Ministers in his Government have had in the matter. (For detail on earlier precedents in this area see pp. 111–2 of the second edition.)

Ministers are required to make full declarations of their own private interests and those of their immediate families as far as they are aware of them. In 1983 the Hawke Government instigated the practice of periodically tabling copies of Ministers’ statements of their interests, more detailed information including the actual values of such interests being retained by the Prime Minister on a confidential basis.188

Following the adoption by the House in 1984 of standing orders and resolutions relating to the registration and declaration of Members’ interests,189 details of the interests of Ministers from the House of Representatives have been included with those of other Members in the Register of Members’ Interests presented at the commencement of each Parliament.

As well as the requirement for the formal registration of their interests, Ministers attending meetings of the Ministry, Cabinet or Cabinet committees are required to declare any private interests in matters under discussion which conflict or might conflict with their public duty as Ministers. Following such a declaration, which is recorded by Cabinet staff, it is open to the meeting to excuse the Minister from the discussion or to agree to his or her participation. Ministers should advise the Prime Minister if they have any concern about a conflict or potential conflict of interest in any area of their responsibilities. The same requirements apply to Parliamentary Secretaries.190

There are restrictions on the employment of a Minister’s close relatives to positions within the Minister’s portfolio, or to his or her private office or to the private offices of other Ministers.191

In June 1995 Speaker Martin, on behalf of an all party working group, presented a draft framework of ethical principles for Members and Senators (see Chapter on ‘Members’,) and a draft framework of ethical principles for Ministers and Presiding Officers. The draft stated ‘Because of the greater trust placed in them, and the power and discretion they exercise in the performance of their duties, Ministers and Presiding Officers must also conform to a set of ethical principles more stringent than those required of Members and Senators’.192

At the commencement of the 38th Parliament Prime Minister Howard presented a ministerial guide, which set out practices and principles to be followed by members of his administration. 193 The section of the guide covering ministerial conduct stresses the importance of Ministers avoiding any appearance of using public office for private purposes, and imposes specific prohibitions or restrictions on engaging in professional practice, directorships of and shareholdings in companies, appointments of relatives or associates, and the acceptance of benefits or gifts. (the link to this document is no longer valid on the current aph website)

Interestingly enough, a chap called Luke Raffin from Melbourne wrote an article about it, as have a number of others http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8497.2008.00496.x (abstract) Upon winning the 1996 election, John Howard became the first Australian prime minister to codify his understanding of individual ministerial responsibility by publishing A Guide on Key Elements of Ministerial Responsibility. This article examines how this ministerial code of conduct was applied to significant allegations of ministerial impropriety that occurred during the 1996–2007 Howard era, and highlights the relationship between the media, the Prime Minister's response and the ultimate outcome. It finds that Howard's early rigorous application of the Guide to allegations of conflicts of interest involved political pain and instigated its decline. Howard retreated, redefined ministerial responsibility as requiring deliberate wrongdoing and raised the threshold required for a minister's dismissal. His inability to firmly apply the Guide to instances of ministerial misconduct betrays the traditional view that ministers are responsible for their own actions. The contemporary practice is that ministers do not resign for departmental failures for which they are not personally responsible, irrespective of the gravity of that wrongdoing.

there are more and they appear equally interesting!

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http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/2007-08/Conduct.htm#ministerialRegister of Interests

Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are required to report on their interests within 28 days of making the oath or affirmation as a member or senator. Registers of Interests were adopted by resolution of the House of Representatives on 8 October 1984 and the Senate on 17 March 1994. The Senate resolution also applies to senior officers of the Department of the Senate. Failure to comply with the requirements of the registers results in a contempt of the Parliament. Notification of alterations to members’ interests is tabled from ‘time to time as required’. Notification of changes to senators’ interests is tabled every six months.

On 15 September 2003 the Senate agreed to amendments to the resolutions relating to senators’ interests and declaration of gifts to the Senate and the Parliament. The amendments increase the value of gifts and assets that must be declared and remove the requirement that senators declare a conflict of interest or financial interest in an issue before voting in the Senate. The House of Representatives agreed to similar amendments relating to gifts and assets on 6 November 2003.

Last but definitely not least of all:

http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/2007-08/Conduct.htm#register

an international survey of dealing with registering members' interests. From the chap who made a recommendation to the committee on Priviledge and Members' Interests in June 1995. I haven't found direct link to the contents of that recommendation so far, but its noted that "Changes to any code of conduct

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ok then, not last at all:

From the House of Representatives Standing Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests "Members' Interests Annual Report 2007" "Report concerning the operations of the Committee of Members’ Interests during 2007" published March 2008." http://www.aph.gov.au/House//committee/pmi/reports.htm

19. The House has not adopted any code of conduct for Members, although a draft code was tabled by the Speaker, on behalf of a working group, on 21 June 1995. The Committee was, therefore not required to consider this matter. "

last for today: outlined in the ALP's National Platform and Constitution, and reitereated in the current ALP National Platform and Constitution.

http://www.alp.org.au/platform/chapter_11.php#11accountable_and_accessible_government Labor ministers will be required to adhere to a formal code of conduct which sets out the principles of ministerial responsibility under which ministers are answerable to Parliament for the discharge of their responsibilities, and action to be taken when conflicts of interest, or perceived conflicts of interest, arise and which prohibits behaviour likely to bring discredit to the government. Former ministers will be required to adhere to a twelve-month waiting period before they can take up employment in their most recent area of responsibility.

I'll be surprised then, if we don't see an actual code of conduct arising before too long. And the state of play today, well you can't find the contents of the recommendation by the working committee headed by the then Speaker of the House...

Currently the behaviour of MPs with regards to conflict of interest appears to be governed only bey this section in standing and sessional orders

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/standos/chapter11.htm 134 Member with pecuniary interest not to vote

  • 1. A Member may not vote in a division on a question about a matter, other than public policy, in which he or she has a particular direct pecuniary interest.
  • 2. The vote of a Member may be challenged on the grounds of the pecuniary interest by means of a substantive motion moved immediately after a division is completed. If the motion is carried, the Member’s vote shall be disallowed.
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additional info:

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/standos/chapter16.htm 216 Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests

   1. A Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests shall be appointed to:
         1. inquire into and report on complaints of breach of privilege or contempt which may be referred to it by the House under standing order 51 or by the Speaker under standing order 52, or any other related matter referred to it by or in accordance with a resolution of the House;
         2. inquire into and report on the arrangements made for the compilation, maintenance and accessibility of a Register of Members’ Interests;
         3. consider proposals by Members and others on the form and content of the Register of Members’ Interests;
         4. consider specific complaints about registering or declaring interests;
         5. consider possible changes to any code of conduct adopted by the House; and
         6. consider whether specified persons (other than Members) ought to be required to register and declare their interests.
   2. The committee shall consist of 11 members: the Leader of the House or his or her nominee, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or his or her nominee and nine other members, five government and four non-government Members. When the Opposition is composed of two parties, the non-government Members shall consist of at least one member of the smaller opposition party.
   3. The committee may call for witnesses and documents, but when considering a matter concerning the registration or declaration of Members' interests it must not exercise that power or undertake an investigation of a person's private interests unless the action is approved by at least 6 members of the committee other than the Chair.
   4. The committee may report when it sees fit, and must report to the House on its operations in connection with the registration and declaration of Members' interests during the year as soon as possible after 31 December each year.

and

231 Member with pecuniary interest not to sit on inquiry

No Member may sit on a committee if he or she has a particular direct pecuniary interest in a matter under inquiry by the committee. If the right of a Member to sit on a committee is challenged, the committee may report the matter to the House for resolution.

that's it folks. Any copyright of above quoted material belongs to the holders stated on the links given in each case. Please follow these!

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