The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has provided oral and written evidence to the Parliament of Australia’s Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Standards. The Committee is conducting an inquiry into the development of codes of conduct for the Parliament of Australia. At a public hearing on 29 September 2022, the CPA’s Head of Programmes, Matthew Salik, gave evidence to the Committee and answered questions on the CPA’s experience in the field of parliamentary codes of conduct, ethics and standards. He noted the CPA’s previous work in developing benchmarks for codes of conduct and supporting Parliaments in this field, providing evidence on the importance of comprehensive ethics training for Members and staff and the need to be forward-thinking, not reactive, when developing codes of conduct.
The CPA’s written submission to the Committee provided further insight into key principles and standards that should be incorporated into parliamentary codes of conduct. The submission referenced several CPA publications which have been produced to support Commonwealth Parliaments to establish, update and uphold codes of conduct and the highest ethical standards of governance. The submission also included codes of conduct benchmarking case studies from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The submission concluded: “Whatever the content of the codes, there are key principles and elements that should be included as a minimum standard. These minimum standards have been developed by the CPA and highlighted in this submission. Finally, the CPA would wish to emphasise that, as part of its deliberations, the Committee looks to many of its international and domestic parliamentary counterparts in identifying examples of good practice.”
The Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Standards for the 47th Parliament of Australia was established in July 2022 “to inquire into and report on matters relating to the development of codes of conduct for Commonwealth (of Australia) parliamentary workplaces.” The Committee has been tasked with developing codes of conduct to ensure safe and respectful behaviour in parliamentary workplaces and recommending options for enforcing and reviewing the codes.
The CPA’s submission was given alongside a number of other organisations including the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards UK; the Australian Services Union; Parliamentary Service at the New Zealand Parliament; Transparency International Australia; Governance Institute of Australia; The Global Institute for Women's Leadership.