Corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald is part of a push to clean up Canberra. Photo: Greg WhiteFewer than a quarter of federal politicians have agreed to commit to new ethical standards devised by legendary corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald – and there is not a single Turnbull government MP among them.
The former judge teamed up with the left-leaning Institute think tank to survey every federal politician on their values as part of a plan to clean up Canberra and build momentum for a federal anti-corruption body.
The Queensland QC –whopresided over the Fitzgerald Inquiry that ultimatelyled tothe resignation of former state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen– developed the questionnaire to test MPs about their attitudes towards accountability, integrity, nepotism,deception and the spending of public money.
But the response from MPs was underwhelming, with just 53 of the 226signing up to the so-called “Fitzgerald Principles”. Thirty-six refused to commitand 137did not reply to repeated requests to participate.
“The refusal of a majority of politicians to commit publicly to normal standards of behaviour puts the need for an effective anti-corruption commission beyond doubt,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“The major parties surely realise that the public wants politicians to behave honourably and thatthe scandals which are causing ns to lose faith in democracy involvetheir members.”
Thirty-eight members of the ALP agreed to the principles, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten andshadow attorney-general MarkDreyfus.Sevenmembers of the n Greens signed up, as did allfour members of the NickXenophonTeam, two independentsand One Nation’s Pauline Hanson.
No Coalition MPs – who are often instructed not to take part in surveys – signed up.
Institute deputy director EbonyBennettsaid polling shows a majority of ns support establishing a federal anti-corruption commission with the power to hold public hearings. “A federal ICAC would help restore the public’s eroding faith in federal politicians and institutions,” she said.
Under current rules federal ministers are required to uphold a Statement of Ministerial Standards that insists on “the highest standards of integrity and propriety”.
However there is no code of conduct covering other federal MPs or senators.
Thirty-sevenprominent ns have joined Mr Fitzgerald’s push, including high-profile barristersRobertRichter,Geoffrey Watson,Brian Walters,KristineHanscombeand StephenKeim.
The principlesare also supported by former NSW DPP NicholasCowdery, ACTU president Ged Kearney,former NSW Parliament speakerand Liberal MP KevinRozzoliand a long list of academics.
The results will be a focus of theAccountability and the Law 2017 Conference to be held in Canberra in August.
The Fitzgerald PrinciplesTo act honourably and fairly and solely in the public interestTo treat all citizens equallyTo tell the truthNot to mislead or deceiveNot to withholdor obfuscate information to which voters are entitledNot to spend public money except for public benefitNot to use your position or information gained from your position for your benefit or the benefit of a family member, friend, political party or other related entity