Political Transparency and Accountability

Source:  Transparency Australia (TI) http://transparency.org.au/ 

Corruption is one of the greatest challenges of the contemporary world.  Corruption undermines good government, distorts public policy, leads to the misallocation of resources, harms private and public-sector development and particularly hurts the poor. Tackling corruption is only possible with the cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders.

Public procurement

In Australia, public procurement is estimated at AU$200-300 billion.  With huge sums of public money at stake, it is vital that governments effectively control corruption in public procurement budgets.  According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, “a procurement system that lacks transparency and competition is the ideal breeding ground for corrupt behaviour.”

Political Donations and Finance

Heightened risk of political corruption as a result of out-of-date and inconsistent regimes for ensuring integrity in political party and election campaign funding is an issue of high public concern.

The December 2014 Political Donations report led by Kerry Schott, commissioned in the wake of serious political finance scandals in NSW, provided many recommendations on how to prevent corruption in relation to political donations.    I support the principles underlying these recommendations and believe they should be implemented in Queensland.

The principles (my amendment) underlying the report’s recommendations are:

  • a ban on anonymous political donations, cash or in kind
  • a ban on political donations from foreign sources
  • online, real-time disclosure of political donations of $1000 or more
  • registered political parties be required to identify where a political donation has been solicited or made for the direct benefit of an endorsed candidate of the party
  • regulation of ‘associated entities’ (i.e. entities that are controlled by a political party or candidate or that operate solely for the benefit of a political party or candidate)
  • the disclosure obligations of associated entities should be the same as those of political parties and candidates.

Whistle-blowers

It is important to ensure public interest whistleblowing is facilitated, protected and acted on in Queensland as a key plank of corruption detection and resilience.  I will work to support, protect and thank whistle-blowers who have the courage to expose corruption where ever it may be including legal, judicial, government, public and private sectors.  Whistle-blowers will have no greater friend than me.

Whistle-blowers (organisational insiders who disclose wrongdoing in, or by, their organisation in order to trigger action) play a key role in exposing otherwise unknown acts of corruption.  Frequently, when corruption or wrongdoing emerges, it becomes clear that government, organisations, law enforcement and other regulators could have acted earlier to prevent or deal with it – if people with relevant knowledge had spoken up, to the right people or in the right way, or been listened to when they tried to raise their concerns.

While Australia has been at the forefront of recognising the role of whistleblowing in its public integrity systems, there remain major problems:

  • The effectiveness of existing legislation in delivering remedies for employees who suffer detriment as a result of making a public interest disclosure remains highly uncertain
  • Not enough is known about best practice approaches to facilitating and protecting whistleblowing within organisations (especially in the private sector); and
  • There is a lack of independent advice and support services for employees who are considering, or who do, blow the whistle on wrongdoing.