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Fixing Tasmania’s broken integrity system

Quotes attributable to Rebecca White

A Labor government I lead will immediately move to repair Tasmania’s broken integrity system to restore the public’s trust in politics and restore integrity in our public institutions.

Integrity in government and our public institutions is foundational. It must underpin everything that governments do.

The past ten years have seen the Liberals show complete disregard for truth, honesty and integrity, with countless scandals involving the Liberals with conflicts of interest and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

 

Quotes attributable to Ella Haddad Shadow Attorney General

After ten years, the Liberals are arrogant and behave like they think the rules don’t apply to them. They have made rorting tax-payers an artform and it has to end.

Under the Liberals Tasmania has become known as the secret state.

Labor will implement a large suite of initiatives to strengthen our integrity system and clean up a system that the Liberals have decimated.

We will do the work needed to reverse the culture of secrecy and make Tasmania a best practice example of truth in political and government decision making.

We will finally restore trust in government and our public institutions.

 

Reforming political donations

Labor will reform political donation laws. Tasmania has the weakest donation disclosure laws in the country and we don’t have a level playing field. Election campaigns should be about the parties and candidates with the best policies, not the deepest pockets.

 

Labor in Government will:

 

  • Require all donations to politicians and parties over $1000 to be disclosed (cumulative for smaller donations from a single source)

  • Require real-time disclosure – monthly outside the election campaign period and weekly within it.

  • Impose spending caps for candidates and for political parties to level the playing field and get big budgets out of politics.

  • Develop and legislate truth in political advertising laws.

 

An Integrity Commission with Teeth

The Integrity Commission is virtually powerless and unable to investigate major breaches of trust when they should be able to.

We need an integrity body with teeth. One that can do the job Tasmanians rightly expect of it.

 

The Liberals conducted a review which recommended widespread change and 55 actions. The Liberals have implemented only six recommendations and refused to implement the rest, leaving the Integrity Commission effectively unable to do its work.

Labor will establish an Integrity body that can actually hold public officials and institutions to account. An Integrity body that isn’t hamstrung by loopholes and narrow parameters that limit what they can and can’t do.

We will conduct a full scale review into the model of the Integrity Commission and implement a model that has the powers, jurisdiction and funding it needs to hold public institutions and the government to account as expected by the Tasmanian public.

While this reform work occurs, Labor will commit an additional $885,000 to the Integrity Commission’s funding each year so that it has resources to do its work effectively.

 

Making our RTI laws work

The Government has politicised the RTI process over their ten years in government. The Act is clear – governments should disclose as much information as they can proactively and when they receive a request under RTI. But the reflex action of the Liberals is to hide information that should be public and to refuse to release it under RTI.

 

Labor will fix this broken system and reverse this culture of secrecy. We will openly disclose more government information to the public, as well as making sure government adheres to the RTI Act and releases information as they should be.

 

This work will include making sure the exceptions in the Act are applied properly and not abused, and properly address the backlog of RTI reviews in the Ombudsman’s office, assessing the Ombudsman’s review role and the role of the Tasmanian Civil and Appeals Tribunal (TasCat), in RTI reviews.

 

We will also ensure public officials receive the training and support they need to understand their obligations and responsibilities in administering the Act, so we can finally reverse the culture of secrecy we have seen under the Liberals.

 

Better accountability for public institutions

The Office of the Ombudsman holds an important and respected role in reviewing decisions of government. But under the Liberals a lack of resourcing means the wait times and backlogs for reviews are so long that people simply give up hope of ever getting access to the information they need.

 

Labor will deal with the unacceptable wait times and backlogs for reviews as well as ensuring public officials receive the training and support they need to understand their obligations fully, to make sure best practice is observed.

 

The Commission of Inquiry recommended the creation of a separate office of Health Complaints Commissioner, separating that role from the Ombudsman and a review of the Act. Labor will progress this work along with the other recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.

 

Keeping lobbyists out of decision-making

Labor will ensure:

  • Mandatory disclosure of lobbyists meetings with politicians, their offices and senior officials.

  • Broadening of rules to including in-house lobbyists.

  • A total ban on gifts from lobbyists

  • A ban on success fees for lobbyists.

  • A twelve-month cooling-off period for ministerial staff lobbying in the portfolio they worked in.

  • No lobbyists working in Government offices.

 

Fixing the culture inside Government

The Commission of Inquiry has laid bare so many areas where the systems of government have totally let down the community, victim survivors as well as workers in the system.

 

Labor will reform the complaint systems inside government agencies to create a culture of safety in reporting, protecting whistle blowers and removing the fear or retribution or reprisal for rightly raising issues of concern.

 

Labor will ensure public servants have the right to speak out freely by amending relevant policies and legislation, to offer protections to workers.  Hearing more from our workers can only improve public policy and Labor recognises that we should be supporting our workers, not threatening them.

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