11 March 2010

State News: Queensland leads way in accountability reform

Controversial ‘success fees’ will be outlawed, the role of the State’s Integrity Commission will be greatly expanded, Government Owned Corporations will be able to be investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC), and members of the public will be given direct on-line access to Government Ministers under sweeping integrity reforms announced recently by the Bligh Government.

Introducing the Integrity Bill 2009 into State Parliament, Premier Anna Bligh said Queensland’s modern system of accountability and integrity would now be the ‘strongest, most transparent and most stringent in the nation’.

Ms Bligh has also indicated that the new laws would be significantly expanded by the middle of 2010.

“When our government issued its green paper on integrity and accountability in August, I indicated that even though reform has been an on-going, continual process over the past two decades, it was time for new stronger reforms that would put Queensland out in front of the rest of the nation,” Ms Bligh said.

“We have listened to the concerns of everyone who submitted a response to the Green Paper and our government makes good with wide-ranging reform.

The reform package includes:

- Banning the payment of success fees to lobbyists for achieving favourable outcomes from government;
- An expansion and enhancement of the role of Queensland’s Integrity Commissioner including oversight of the Queensland Register of Lobbyists and making the Commissioner an officer of Parliament with the ability to provide advice to all MPs;
- An overhaul of political donations and campaign funding if the Commonwealth does not act by July 2010 leading the nation by introducing a cap on political donations of $1000;
- Amending the Crime and Misconduct Act to ensure all Government Owned Corporations can be investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, ensuring the use of public resources by these bodies is subject to the strong scrutiny;
- Enshrining the lobbyists code and its requirements in legislation;
- A formal referral to the CMC requesting it conduct an independent review of current police discipline and misconduct processes;
- A requirement that newly appointed public service officers and ministerial staff disclose whether they have worked as lobbyists in the past two years;
- A reform of the Whistleblowers Protection Act; &
- The establishment of an Ethical Standards Branch within the Public Service Commission to assist all Queensland Public Service employees by providing independent advice on public sector ethics issues.

The State Government believes that the reform package will provide Queensland with one of the most open and accountable government systems in the nation.

(Originally published December 2009)

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