A PROPOSED code of conduct for the nation’s leaders could help improve political debate in Australia, Ballarat MP Catherine King said yesterday.
Independent MP Rob Oakeshott will introduce long awaited legislation seeking to lift standards for MPs when the House of Representatives sits today, with the proposed code of conduct expected to pass on Thursday with the support of Labor members.
It includes a complaints process for MPs and a revamped role for the powerful privileges and members’ interests committees of parliament.
Ms King expressed optimism the new code could help lift standards as many commentators deride the state of the political discourse in recent years.
“The reason we go into politics is because we are passionate about issues that affect people,” she said. “Debate in the parliament will necessarily reflect that passion.
“But passion in a debate should not degenerate into insulting and poor conduct and Rob’s bill will hopefully improve some of that.”
The code seeks to cover “all aspects” of the public duties of MPs and says they must not breach or evade the laws, should exercise “due diligence” in performing official duties and use their parliamentary entitlements economically and for their indented use only.
Seen as a reaction to recent controversies surrounding scandal-plagued MP Craig Thomson and sidelined Speaker Peter Slipper, the bill says MPs must “exercise the influence gained from their public office only to advance the public interest”
The Labor caucus and Coalition party room will both meet tomorrow.