Major parties tested by introduction of Greens Parliamentary Standards Bill

The Australian Greens MPs

The introduction of the Greens Parliamentary Standards Bill in the Senate today will be a strong test of whether Labor and the Liberals genuinely want to stamp out corruption and restore public trust in democracy.

The bill creates a binding, independently enforced code of conduct for all Federal politicians and staff.

The Australian community’s trust in politicians and government has plummeted to 31 per cent, with less than a quarter of the community expressing trust in Federal Ministers and MPs [1].

Greens Co-Deputy Leader and spokesperson on democracy, Senator Larissa Waters, said the community can no longer tolerate the ongoing scandals and politicians’ misbehaviour.

“Alarming levels of disrespect have been allowed to flourish in the Australian Parliament, from appalling behaviour in the chambers that would not be tolerated in any other workplace to outright corruption and selfish opportunism,” she said today.

“Today the Greens will introduce a much-needed Parliamentary Standards Bill in the Senate to help lift the bar, as a large step towards restoring public trust in democracy.

“The centrepiece of the new bill is a binding, enforceable code of conduct for all Ministers, parliamentarians and senior staffers.

“The Greens bill requires all politicians to respect others, to avoid conflicts of interest, to act with integrity, and to ensure that power and public resources are always used in the public interest.

“It would establish new independent enforcement agent with teeth, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, who can investigate breaches of the code of conduct and take action when politicians’ behaviour fails to meet public expectations.

“For serious allegations, the new Public Standards Commissioner could refer the matter to the Greens proposed National Integrity Commission for a more comprehensive investigation.

“The bill is a large step towards restoring public trust in democracy, but more needs to be done. The bill also sets out a process to review and strengthen existing standards for lobbying, post-parliamentary employment, political donations, and campaign financing,” Senator Waters said.

Full copy of National Integrity (Parliamentary Standards) Bill 2019 available here: http://bit.ly/NationalIntegrity

[1] Democracy 2025’s Trust in Democracy Report, December 2018 https://www.democracy2025.gov.au/documents/Democracy2025-report1.pdf

/Public Release. View in full here.