Codes of conduct for members of parliament

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Codes of conduct for members of parliament

Posted 24/05/2012 by Deirdre McKeown

Many Australian and overseas parliaments have put in place codes of conduct covering ministers and members of parliament. Some parliaments have ethics or integrity commissioners to advise members on their code, while others have external bodies empowered to investigate members' conduct.

The federal Parliament is currently considering the arguments for and against a members' code of conduct and the benefits of establishing a National Integrity Commission.

A Parliamentary Library Background Note on parliamentary codes of conduct around Australia and in selected overseas jurisdictions has been updated to reflect some recent developments.

The following table summarises the codes of conduct operating in Australian parliaments:

CodesFederalNSW VicQldWA SA TAS ACT NT
Ministerial code stand alone-++--
Ministerial code in ministerial
or cabinet handbook
Members’ code +-#-***-
Members’ code in legislation-------
Post-separation employment
Lobbyist code and register****--
Register of Interests
Integrity Commission(er)---**----
Parliamentary ethics/integrity
External bodies investigating
MPs’ conduct

+ House of Representatives Privileges and Members’ Interests Committee reported on a draft Code of Conduct in November 2011. The Senate Standing Committee of Senators’ Interests is due to report by 27 November 2012. The National Integrity Commissioner Bill 2010 makes provision for a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner.
++Ministers and government members are also subject to a Fundraising Code of Conduct
* On advice from the Parliamentary Ethics Adviser.
** Under the provisions of the Integrity Act 2009 (Qld) the Integrity Commissioner’s role is expanded and the Lobbyist code and register are enshrined in legislation. Integrity (Lobbyists) Bill (WA) introduced Nov 2011
*** There is no code covering members of the Legislative Council.
# Covers members of the WA Legislative Assembly only.
## Independent Commission Against Corruption (NSW), Crime and Misconduct Commission (Qld), Corruption and Crime Commission (WA), Integrity Commission (Tas), Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (Vic), Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bill (SA) introduced May 2012 does not include investigation of members of parliament.

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