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How politicians are expected to behave

The parliamentary standards committee has presented its final report which includes a proposed code of conduct and standards for Commonwealth workplaces.

November 29, 2022
By Maeve Bannister
29 November 2022

Parliamentarians are being urged to adopt a new code of conduct for their workplaces. The Parliamentary Standards Committee final report released on Tuesday includes:

* A proposed code of conduct for parliamentarians, their staff and people employed in Commonwealth workplaces has been released.

* It was recommended by the parliamentary standards committee in its final report after an inquiry. 

* If adopted it would apply to all who work in Parliament House – including ministerial, departmental and press gallery staff – as well as electorate offices across the country.

* The code would require employees to act respectfully, professionally and with integrity. 

* It requires employees to recognise their power, influence or authority and not to abuse them. 

* It also stated bullying, harassment, sexual harassment or assault, or discrimination in any form – including on the grounds of race, age, sex, sexuality, gender identity, disability, or religion – would not be tolerated, condoned or ignored.

* Standards specific to parliamentarians would apply to all aspects of their roles, including at social events, when travelling for work and outside of normal business hours.

* It would cover all their communication in person, over the phone or via social media. 

* Alcohol consumption would not be accepted as an excuse for code breaches.

* The report recommended establishing an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission responsible for investigating reported code breaches. 

* Complaints would be confidential. 

* Vexatious complaints or those made in bad faith would be a breach of the code and the complainant could be investigated and sanctioned by the commission.

* The committee also recommended a staff representative working group be established when the code is implemented.

* The group would provide guidance, education as well as review the code to ensure it is working as intended. 

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