Barr promises integrity measures if his government is returned

andrew barr

ANDREW Barr says A re-elected ACT Labor government will bring in a series of measures to increase transparency, accountability and integrity in government.

“The measures will broaden the definition of ‘lobbyist’, create a new investigative body and tighten rules around political donations,” Andrew said.

“Labor will appoint an ACT Integrity Commissioner, assisted by a team of specialised investigators, who will investigate, conduct hearings, and have the power to recommend criminal prosecution, for serious breaches of integrity across the public sector.

“An independent review into the Commission’s operations and resourcing will be conducted five years after establishment, to ensure it is meeting its objectives.

“Rules around political donations will also be tightened. Labor will introduce ‘real-time’ reporting of donations – requiring donations to be declared within seven days of receipt.

“From today, Labor will no longer accept political donations from property developers, and in the next term we will bring to the Assembly a legislative ban on property developer donations. ACT Labor supports Federal Labor’s proposed ban on international donations.

“We will investigate complementary schemes for public funding of election campaigns that encourage candidates and parties to raise funds from small individual contributions. These reforms will also close loop holes that can allow parties to avoid declaring fundraising events by pricing them under the $1000 declaration threshold.

“We’ll expand the scope of the ACT Lobbyist Register to cover in-house government relations staff, industry associations, and project management liaison officers and companies. During the parliamentary term, we will conduct a wide-ranging review of the lobbyist register to assess whether it is meeting its objectives, and propose further options for reform if necessary.

“Labor will also take steps to remove the risk of political interference in complaints against Assembly Members. Changes will prevent the Assembly Speaker interfering with the work of the independent Commissioner for Standards through rules that mean the Speaker can’t block a complaint or insert their own views when referring the matter.

“We will also ensure the ACT election process is more democratic by allowing voters to enrol to vote up to and on election day, aligning the formal campaign period to the minimum federal election length and closing nominations on day five of the formal campaign period to allow for an earlier distribution of postal votes, so more Canberrans get a chance to have their say.”

The Greens are pleased by this development:

The ACT Greens have welcomed Labor’s adoption of key aspects of its ‘Community First’ integrity package.

“Just weeks ago, both the Labor and Liberal parties were saying that the ACT didn’t need an ICAC,” said ACT Greens democracy spokesperson Indra Esguerra.

“We launched our campaign pledging an ICAC for the ACT and we’re pleased that the Labor and Liberal parties have now both bowed to community pressure and agreed to our proposal.

“We’re also pleased that Labor has signed on to our lobbyist crackdown,” Ms Esguerra said.

Ms Esguerra said that while Labor’s backflip on developer donations was welcome, it was Labor that had reinstated these donations with the Liberal Party less than two years ago.

“It is appalling that the Labor and Liberal parties ganged up against the Greens two years ago to water down our donation laws. They created this problem, and now that they have used these last two years to fundraise for the election, Labor has joined our call for a ban on developer donations because they can see it has popular support.

“The ACT Greens have never taken a donation from a developer. While the other parties have spent the past two years fundraising from business and developers, we have have been fighting to clean up political donations.

“We won’t back down on our commitment to donations reform after the election – as Labor did two years ago.

“We’ll keep fighting to put the community first and get corporate money out of politics once and for all,” Ms Esguerra said.

So far, the Greens have announced:
– An ICAC for the ACT in July
– A ban on developer and corporate donations in August
– A crackdown on lobbyists earlier this month

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