New ministerial code of conduct introduced

Picture: AAP

By Matthew Sims

The State Government has introduced an updated code of conduct to help maintain ethical behaviour within Ministers and Parliamentary secretaries.

Coming into effect on Friday 1 December, the updated Code of Conduct would aim to strengthen the focus on conduct, integrity and probity for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, making regular transparent reporting and training on their obligations mandatory.

New reporting obligations as part of the updated Code of Conduct would improve transparency of ministerial interests by requiring ministers to:

* Disclose interests and declare conflicts for publication in the newly established ministerial register of interests;

* Disclose accepted gifts, benefits, and hospitality for publication in the ministerial register of gifts, benefits, and hospitality; and

* Publish quarterly diary summaries containing details of scheduled meetings with stakeholders, external organisations and third-party lobbyists.

Ministers would also be prohibited from employing family members as staff or in certain public sector bodies.

The updated Code of Conduct addressed recommendations made in the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and the Victorian Ombudsman’s Operation Watts special report, and IBAC’s Operation Daintree special report.

Berwick MP Brad Battin said the State Government should be held to account by law not just a private code of conduct.

“We cannot forget Labor supported a Speaker and Deputy Speaker who rorted over $140,000 on second residence allowances they were not entitled, they are famous for the ‘Red Shirts Rorts’, there was a Minister using a government funded limousine to transport his dogs from Melbourne to his holiday home in Daylesford and even a Minister who ‘forgot’ to declare a bike worth thousands of dollars as a gift,“ he said.

“Having Labor in charge of integrity is like having Dracula in charge of the blood bank.

“You can be sure of one thing in the new code – enough grey areas that when Labor get caught with their hands in the till, they can say it was an admin error and not theft.“

Pakenham MP Emma Vulin said all Victorians deserved those who served their interest to act ethically.

“Victorians expect transparency and this update to the code of conduct ensures Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries are reporting at an even higher standard”.