Integrity is not optional.
It is of concern to me that, as reported in today’s edition of The Age, the Labor chair of a Parliamentary committee stymied independent auditors, “instructing’’ them to remove references to Government underfunding of the Independent Broad-based Anticorruption Commission.
In democratic politics, integrity underpins everything, yet is so often absent.
Result? Rampant cynicism and a trashing of the public interest in favour of private, party, factional, financial, and vested interests.
Conflicts of interest are part of life; what is important is that they be managed with transparency and accountability, two tenets that have been at the heart of my life as an advocate, activist, and lawmaker.
Which is why this election I am calling for a code of conduct for members of Parliament to be enshrined in law.
I also believe ministerial diaries should be publicly available in real time.
If you nothing to fear and you are on the public purse, you have nothing to hide and a public duty to be transparent.
Reason Party’s integrity policies also include:
- All politicians should be legally bound and required to act in the public interest.
- A cap on electoral spending.
- Expenses rules for MPs, and removing vague entitlements.
- Extending the powers of the IBAC’s power to investigate misuses of public funds.
- Reason calls for Ministerial diaries to be published in real time – no more secret meetings.
- Insisting that evidence, research, and expert knowledge be provided to in support of proposed policies.
- Rational, frank, transparent and fearless advice from public servants.
- Supporting democratic processes for open and honest dialogue with the public, including citizen juries, referendums, and town hall meetings.
- Fostering connections between young people and the processes of parliament and government.
- Bipartisan long-term planning of social and physical infrastructure.
- Changing the standing orders to include non-government business in the Legislative Assembly.
Integrity is crucial to all areas of public policy. A particular concern of mine is the unfair tax breaks given to religions and profitable religious charities.
If re-elected, I commit to continuing my fight for reform, including ending the massive real-estate tax breaks given to religions, some of the biggest property owners in the nation.
I was the first independent chair of a parliamentary committee. We fought long and hard to ensure that pandemic-specific legislation had a level of transparency and integrity many thought was impossible.
As a result of reforms to the Electoral Reform Act I negotiated with the Victorian Government in 2018, an independent committee must be established in 2023 to determine an appropriate cap on electoral spending to ensure elections re fairer and more equitable.
The major parties’ share of vote has plunged from 99 per cent to less than two-thirds in recent decades, adding to the importance and urgency of this reform.
Voters have a right to question the degree of honesty and integrity exercised by mainstream political parties, which have all the power but face insufficient scrutiny.
I am not new to this issue. In 2018, I said: “This is particularly important given that election campaigns are now going to be publicly funded. We need to ensure there is a limit to the amount that can be spent so the public are not left with a continually growing bill. Almost 50 countries around the world have capped their election campaign spending including Canada, the UK and New Zealand and it makes sense that it is introduced in Victoria.’’
This year’s federal election result demonstrated tangible and irresistible community hunger for increased integrity of politics. It’s a huge issue in Victoria.
The ongoing fallout of the Labor Party’s branch-stacking and misuse of taxpayers’ money to fund blatant political work shows the party is in lamentable need of cleaning up its own dirty backyard.
And recently, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s claim he takes integrity seriously was shredded by evidence he was aware of, indeed potentially party to, an attempt to get around political funding rules by hitting up a billionaire Liberal donor for $100,000 to top up the salary of his then chief of staff, a man with no political experience who resigned in disgrace.
My party’s policies would go a long way to preventing the king of behaviour that has undermined not only the integrity of individuals, but of the entire political system. It’s not OK, and it won’t end by itself. This is the hands of voters, and they have recently shown their resolve.
Policy Big Picture
DATA BASE: My time in electoral politics since 2014 has been driven by a desire to make the place a bit fairer and better. I have done that through evidence-based policy and first principles including equality of opportunity, accountability, transparency and compassion.
GETTING STUFF DONE: Achievements include assisted dying legislation; improvements in women’s health; better and extended protection for minors in state care; exclusion zones around abortion clinics; harm minimisation reforms in drug law, including a medically supervised injecting room saving countless lives; spent convictions reform; pandemic-specific legislation to force the government to tell us its reasoning behind health measures.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The agenda includes further drug law reform to reduce harm; increase mental health care; tax profitable religious charities; prevent publicly funded hospitals and hospices from refusing to provide abortions, family planning and assisted dying; robust action on global warming; a new hospital for Melbourne’s north; formal inclusion of childcare in the education system; religious equality in Parliament, including respect for the non-religious.