The Integrity Commission has today released a research paper analysing commitments made during past Tasmanian election campaigns. The report recommends that rules and legislation be implemented to ensure future election commitments are formulated and administered according to good practice.
The research paper is the second in a series about ethical conduct and potential misconduct risks in Tasmanian parliamentary elections. It follows on from Paper 1: Tasmanian Electoral Act offences and campaign conduct, released in October last year.
Integrity Commission Chief Commissioner, Greg Melick, said the first paper in this series discussed ‘pork barrelling’, and the difficulties inherent in seeking to regulate such conduct.
‘In our second paper we examine election promisies and commitments, and discuss how this behaviour may be regulated without constraining the democratic process. This is an issue relating to governments of all persuasions throughout Australia,’ said Chief Commissioner Melick.
Paper 2: Grant commitments in election campaigns, released today, considers ways to regulate ‘commitments’ made before Tasmanian parliamentary elections and ‘grants’ provided after elections.
Chief Commissioner Melick says, ‘The public needs to have confidence that funding commitments made during elections are accountable and backed by policies. Without due process and policy, such grant promises may be – or perceived to be – for political outcomes only i.e. pork barrelling’.
The Integrity Commmission recommends that a system be implemented to restore a degree of due process to these kinds of promises, and help restore trust in the democratic process.
‘When made, election campaign promises should be supported by policy, and must be publicised to all of the electorate – not just the intended recipients. Tasmania should also have mandatory legislation or regulations requiring promises of this kind to be subject to an assessment process after the election – in addition to the checks currently performed by the State Service.’
‘We recommend that the Government considers these changes before the next House of Assembly election,’ says Chief Commissioner Melick.
The research paper makes three recommendations to the Tasmanian Government:
- The Government consider introducing legislation into Tasmania that incorporates the sentiment of section 71 of the Commonwealth’s Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. This section says that a Minister must not approve proposed expenditure of relevant money unless satisfied that the expenditure would be a ‘proper’ use of relevant money.
The Tasmanian Government consider introducing mandatory grant rules modelled on the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines. These rules should include compliance mechanisms and apply to: Ministers and ministerial staff; grant commitments made during an election period; ad hoc and discretionary grant commitments; and the Premier’s Discretionary Fund.
- The Government consider adopting the remainder of the recommendations made in 2011 by the Tasmanian Auditor-General about the Premier’s Sundry Grants program (now known as the Premier’s Discretionary Fund).
The research paper series forms part of the Commission’s educational function under the Integrity Commission Act 2009. The risks identified in the research papers draw upon complaints, assessments and investigations, research from open-source information, including from other jurisdictions, and communications to the Commission.
Further research papers in the series will also be published on the Commission’s website:
Media release by Greg Melick AO SC Chief Commissioner
Chief Commissioner Greg Melick AO SC will be available for interview at 11.15am Wednesday 6 April, on Parliamentary Lawns.
Michael Easton, Chief Executive Officer
Ph: 1300 720 289