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Government should suspend AFCO appointees to government bodies



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MEDIA RELEASE

■Λ ψ THE SENATt

SENATOR JIM SHORT

SH A D O W MINISTER FOR HOM E AFFAIRS

C O M M O N W EA LTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY C. I. s.

GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUSPEND AFCO APPOINTEES

TO GOVERNMENT BODIES

The Hawke Government should take Immediate steps to suspend all Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations (AFCO) appointees to Government bodies until major conflicts of interest are resolved.

The Minister for Consumer Affairs# Senator Bolkus, has advised me he agrees there is a conflict of interest. However# as yet# he has taken no action.

According to 'Rules for AFCO Representatives', prepared recently by AFCO# its appointees to Government bodies "are regarded by AFCO as accountable to the Federation and obliged to act in the interest of advancing its policies".

In respect of Government bodies with confidential material, the AFCO rules also state "AFCO considers that such confidentiality should not preclude its representatives from seeking advice from others in the Federation".

These rules are a blatant directive to AFCO representatives to breach both the impartiality and confidentiality of Government bodies.

NO organisation which supplies confidential data to a Government organisation on which there is an AFCO appointee can any longer have confidence# either that it will be treated impartially# or that its confidentiality will be respected.

Unless and until its rules are changed# AFCO appointments to Government bodies seriously jeopardise the impartiality, confidentiality and independence of those bodies.

Affiliates of AFCO consider themselves bound by these same rules. This was confirmed at recent hearings of the Federal Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee by a senior officer of the Australian Consumers Assofaiation (ACA). ACA is the largest affiliate of AFCO.

AFCO and its affiliates, in particular ACA# have long been associated with an anti-business stance.

This latest disclosure about AFCO's rules for its representatives can only further undermine the confidence of industry in the impartiality and confidentiality it can expect to receive from the Hawke Government.

For further information# contact Senator Short (03) 387 4177

Canberra # 1 August 1988

1ST FLOOR, 80 SYDNEY ROAD, BRUNSWICK, VICTORIA 3US6. PHONE (03) 387 4 1 / / , 380 2714 (A,H.) FArsiMii c I'm) >*7 m^7