After eight years’ debate both houses of Tasmania’s Parliament now have a Code of Conduct for members.
It is the first time members of the Legislative Council have had a Code of Conduct.
The code, which is identical for both Houses, sets out ethical standards expected by members and will act as a benchmark against which their conduct can be measured.
Any allegations of breaches of the Code will be dealt with internally by the respective Houses. It is distinct from the Ministerial Code of Conduct which is applied and enforced by the Premier.
The Code was agreed to by both Houses the week Liberal member for Braddon Adam Brooks was referred to the Privileges Committee of the House of Assembly.
The Privileges Committee will consider whether the findings of the Integrity Commission report into Mr Brooks constitute a breach of privileges or the previous Code of Conduct within the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly.
The new Code has been welcomed by all sides of politics and Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Integrity Rene Hidding has been credited with making it a reality.
It covers ethical standards including conflicts of interest, declaration of personal interests, use of public office, official information and public resources, outside employment and parliamentary conduct.
The preamble states that: “Members of Parliament recognise that their actions have an impact on the lives of all Tasmanian people. Fulfilling their obligations and discharging their duties responsibly requires a commitment to the highest ethical standards to maintain and strengthen the democratic traditions of the state and the integrity of its institutions.”
Mr Hidding said when Tasmania’s Integrity Commission was set up some 10 years ago it was proposed that both Houses should have an identical Code of Conduct.
“Earlier this year the Premier indicated to Parliament that he was keen to see it resolved and we have brought the three parties and the Independents together and we have two codes of conduct with identical terms,” he said.
“The House of Assembly has had two Codes - one for conduct and one for race ethics but they were somewhat deficient and had clunky language that was no longer appropriate.
“The Committee on Integrity has got the job done after many failures to achieve consensus for one reason or another.”
Mr Hidding said the Code set appropriate standards reflecting the community’s expectations for Tasmanian MPs’ behaviour.
Political analyst Professor Richard Herr welcomed the Code and the fact it will be reviewed every four years.