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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6538

Mr RAGUSE (11:31 AM) —On behalf of the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests, I present a report entitled Publication of the Register of Members’ Interests on the Australian Parliament website.

Ordered that the report be made a parliamentary paper.

Mr RAGUSE —by leave—The committee has been considering the issue of the publication of the details of members’ interests on the Australian Parliament website and how such publication might be achieved. The committee presented a discussion paper to the House on the matter in November 2009 and invited comment. Under the standing orders and resolutions of the House, a decision to make the register available on the AP website, and the form it would take, is one that the committee can make. The committee proposes the following changes to the way in which the register is published to enable online access from the commencement of the 43rd Parliament:

  • at the commencement of each parliament each member’s initial interest return will be scanned and immediately after the returns have been tabled in the House, the full set will be posted to the AP website in a PDF version. The initial comprehensive statements by members will thus be available on the same day as they were presented to the House;
  • notices of alterations will be copied and scanned and then be posted with updates occurring at least weekly;
  • the details of alterations will be posted with the initial declarations for each member enabling easier checking of individual members’ declarations; and
  • the main point of access on the AP website will be a new item—Statements of Members’ Interests. There will also be a link to the committee’s own home page.

The committee is also proposing to have a number of security features included in the entries, and details of these are in the report. The committee understands that the Committee of Senators’ Interests is proposing to adopt a similar approach to that of this committee in publishing the details of senators’ interests in the 43rd Parliament.

The committee will continue, as it is required to do by the resolution of the House, to table in the House copies of the initial statements of interests by members and periodically the notification of alterations. The register will also continue to be available for inspection, although it is expected that having the statements available online will reduce the number of inspections significantly. The committee believes that the approach it is proposing to electronic publication of the Register of Members’ Interests will provide for a sensible balance between considerations of integrity of the data, ease of access for those using the system, transparency and administration.