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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 820


Senator GARETH EVANS (Manager of Government Business in the Senate)(9.10) —On behalf of Senator Button, I move:

That the Senate adopt the following resolution relating to the registration and declaration of Senators' interests, such resolution to continue in force unless amended or repealed by the Senate in this or a subsequent Parliament:

1 Declaration of Senators' interests

(1) That, within 28 days of making and subscribing an oath or affirmation as a Senator, each Senator shall provide to the Registrar of Senators' Interests a statement of-

(a) the Senators' registrable interests; and

(b) the registrable interests of which the Senator is aware (i) of the Senator's spouse; and (ii) of any children who are wholly or mainly dependent on the Senator for support,

in accordance with the resolution adopted by the Senate and in a form determined by the Committee of Senators' Interests from time to time, and shall also notify any alteration of those interests to the Registrar within 28 days of that alteration occurring.

(2) Any Senator who-

(a) knowingly fails to provide a statement of registrable interests to the Registrar of Senators' Interests by the due date;

(b) knowingly fails to notify any alteration of those interests to the Registrar of Senators' Interests within 28 days of the change occurring; or

(c) knowingly provides false or misleading information to the Registrar of Senators' Interests,

shall be guilty of a serious contempt of the Senate and shall be dealt with by the Senate accordingly.

2 Registrable interests

That the statement of a Senator's registrable interests to be provided by a Senator shall include the registrable interests of which the Senator is aware (a) of the Senator's spouse; and (b) of any children who are wholly or mainly dependent on the Senator for support, and shall cover the following matters:

(i) shareholdings in public and private companies (including holding companies) indicating the name of the company or companies;

(ii) family and business trusts and nominee companies-

(A) in which a beneficial interest is held, indicating the name of the trust, the nature of its operation and beneficial interest, and

(B) in which the Senator, the Senator's spouse, or a child who is wholly or mainly dependent on the Senator for support, is a trustee (but not including a trustee of an estate where no beneficial interest is held by the Senator, the Senator's spouse or dependent children), indicating the name of the trust, the nature of its operation and the beneficiary of the trust;

(iii) real estate, including the location (suburb or area only) and the purpose for which it is owned;

(iv) registered directorships of companies;

(v) partnerships, indicating the nature of the interests and the activities of the partnership;

(vi) liabilities, indicating the nature of the liability and the creditor concerned;

(vii) the nature of any bonds, debentures and like investments;

(viii) saving or investment accounts, indicating their nature and the name of the bank or other institutions concerned;

(ix) the nature of any other assets (excluding household and personal effects) each valued at over $5,000;

(x) the nature of any other substantial sources of income;

(xi) gifts valued at more than $250 received from official sources, or at more than $100 where received from other than official sources, provided that a gift received by a Senator, the Senator's spouse or dependent children from family members or personal friends in a purely personal capacity need not be registered unless the Senator judges that an appearance of conflict of interest may be seen to exist;

(xii) any sponsored travel or hospitality received;

(xiii) membership of any organisation; and

(xiv) any other interests where a conflict of interest with a Senator's public duties could foreseeably arise or be seen to arise.

3 Register and Registrar of Senators' Interests

That-

(a) at the commencement of each Parliament, and at other times as necessary, the President shall appoint an officer of the Department of the Senate as the Registrar of Senators' Interests and that officer shall also be Clerk to the Committee of Senators' Interests;

(b) the Registrar of Senators' Interests shall, in accordance with procedures determined by the Committee of Senators' Interests, maintain a Register of Senators' Interests in a form to be determined by that Committee from time to time;

(c) as soon as possible after the commencement of each Parliament, the Chairman of the Committee of Senators' Interests shall table in the Senate a copy of the completed Register of Senators' Interests and shall also table from time to time as required any notification by a Senator of alteration of those interests; and

(d) the Register of Senators' Interests shall be available for inspection by any person under conditions to be laid down by the Committee of Senators' Interests from time to time.

4 Declaration of interest in debate and other proceedings

That, notwithstanding the lodgment by a Senator of a statement of the Senator's registrable interests and the registrable interests of which the Senator is aware (a) of the Senator's spouse; and (b) of any children who are wholly or mainly dependent on the Senator for support, and the incorporation of that statement in a Register of Senators' Interests, a Senator shall declare any relevant interest-

(i) at the beginning of his or her speech if the Senator should participate in debate in the Senate, Committee of the whole Senate, or a Committee of the Senate (or of the Senate and the House), and

(ii) as soon as practicable after a Division is called for in the Senate, Committee of the whole Senate, or a Committee of the Senate (or of the Senate and the House) if the Senate proposes to vote in that Division, and

the declaration shall be recorded and indexed in the Journals of the Senate or Minutes of Proceedings (as applicable) and in any Hansard report of those proceedings or that Division:

Provided that it shall not be necessary for a Senator to declare an interest when directing a question seeking information in accordance with Standing Order 98 or 98A.

I make the following comments on behalf of Senator Button: Until today no requirements have been made of senators to disclose publicly the private interests which they hold. It is right and proper that they should do so. The public and the electors of this country are entitled to have confidence in the integrity of their elected representatives, to know that members of the Government will perform their duties without fear or favour and to be reassured that a member's private interests, whatever they may be, do not conflict with his or her public duties in holding the office of a member of the Government. With those beliefs in mind the Australian Labor Party has long held the view that public disclosure of the private interests of members is appropriate. In September 1983 the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) made a statement to the House of Representatives at the time he presented copies of the statements Ministers had provided to him concerning their private interests. The Prime Minister informed the House that the Government proposed that a similar requirement should be made of all members and senators. He proposed that they should disclose their own private interests and that the precise arrangements for this should be established in the Standing Orders of each chamber.

On 9 October 1984 the House of Representatives adopted a resolution to be effective from the Thirty-Fourth Parliament requiring each member within 28 days of making and subscribing an oath or affirmation as a member to provide to the Registrar of Members' Interests a statement of, firstly, the members' registrable interests; and secondly, the registrable interests of which the member is aware of the member's spouse and also of any children who are wholly or mainly dependent on the member for support.

The House proceeded to consider this matter ahead of the Senate-some considerable time ahead of the Senate-and on 13 September last year it adopted a resolution. Firstly, it reaffirmed the requirement for the registration and declaration of interest of members' spouses and dependent children adopted by the House on 9 October 1984; secondly, it made amendments to certain matters requiring registration; thirdly, it required the House of Representatives Committee of Members' Interests to determine a form for the registration of interests by 10 April 1986; fourthly, it determined that each current member was required to provide a statement of registrable interests to the Registrar of Members' Interests by 30 June 1986; and, fifthly and finally, it resolved that any member of the House of Representatives who knowingly fails to provide a statement of registrable interests to the Registrar of Members' Interests by the due date, knowingly fails to notify any alteration of those interests to the Registrar within 28 days of the change occurring, or knowingly provides false and misleading information to the Registrar shall be guilty of a serious contempt of the House of Representatives and should be dealt with by the House accordingly. This resolution was amended by the House of Representatives in October 1986, with the main change being that statements were required to be lodged only once in the life of each Parliament.

Motion No. 3 is the first motion which goes into matters of policy. What this is all about is that the Senate adopt arrangements relating to the registration and declaration of senators' interests in identical form to the resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on 9 October 1984, subsequently amended on 13 February 1986 and 22 October 1986. Motion No. 4 is to adopt a new standing order for the Senate in identical terms as the House of Representatives standing order 28a which was adopted by the House on 9 October 1984. This standing order would establish a committee of senators' interests with the same terms of reference as the current House of Representatives Committee of Members' Interests. The House of Representatives Committee's report of its operations for 1986 tabled in the House on 23 February this year indicates that the requirements for declarations have been implemented with no significant difficulties.

Motion No. 5 sets out the requirement for the proposed committee of senators' interests to determine a form for registration of senators' interests and proposes that each senator will provide a statement of interests by 30 June 1987. This motion also includes an additional aspect whereby failure to provide a statement or the provision of false and misleading information in a statement will be considered as a serious contempt of the Senate to be dealt with accordingly. This reflects the resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on 13 February 1986 and is a necessary step to ensure that the requirements are met by all senators.

I have given a full description on Senator Button's behalf. I am now delighted to see that he is in the chamber to handle this matter for himself. I commend these motions to the Senate.