Thursday Jun 08, 2023

Ministers subject to new code of conduct



Federal politics will be cleaned up by a new code of conduct for ministers and their staff, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says.

Mr Albanese wants Australians to be confident in their elected representatives and ensure the controversies of the former government are not repeated.

The new code, approved by Mr Albanese on Thursday, will require ministers to divest any shares they own directly.

While ministers will be able to have shares in superannuation and other managed funds, they will not be allowed to have a blind trust arrangement.

Ministers will also hold personal responsibility for their own private interests, which they won’t be able to delegate to anyone else.

“You can do a great job of being a minister in the Australian government, that should be your focus, not worrying about your personal finances into the future,” he told the Seven Network on Friday.

“I want politics to be cleaned up … and that’s why we will have strict adherence to the code of conduct.”

It comes after parliament’s privileges committee last year recommended rules surrounding the register of interests be updated after former attorney-general Christian Porter failed to declare a blind trust.

Mr Porter’s situation failed the credibility test and exposed weaknesses in the system, Mr Albanese said.

The new ministerial code is based on the 2013 guidelines when Labor were last in power, but has been updated and will also extend to assistant ministers.

Mr Albanese said the code set out expectations for how ministers would behave.

“I expect ministers to uphold the highest of standards in both their professional and personal lives,” he said.

“This new code of conduct for ministers delivers on the government’s promise to be open and accountable.”

Staff will also be subject to a new code, requiring a written declaration of their interests to their direct minister.

Special Minister of State Don Farrell said the update would help to make Parliament House a more respectful workplace.

“Ministers and their staff hold a prominent and influential position within the Australian government,” Senator Farrell said in a statement.

“The conduct of ministerial staff should be held at the highest standard, while also recognising their pivotal role in creating a safe and respectful workplace within Parliament House.”



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