Independent Helen Haines joins call for national integrity commission

Independent candidate for Indi Helen Haines today committed to advance the interests of the people and communities of Indi above all others and to conduct an honest campaign when she lodged her federal election nomination in Wangaratta.

Dr Haines said she had signed ‘The Politicians’ Pledge’ – a document conceived in 2015 by The Ethics Centre, led by Simon Longstaff AO, and The Sydney Morning Herald – and called on fellow candidates to do the same.

The pledge commits signatories to act in ways that merit the trust and respect of the communities they seek to represent, to hold themselves accountable to electors and to exercise elected office with honour, dignity and care.

“The great thing about the different way in which Indi communities have been represented by an Independent in federal parliament for the past six years is that it attracts a lot of attention because it is different – it is respectful, it’s inclusive and it works,” Dr Haines said.

“The people of Indi have come to expect a high standard of ethical behaviour from their elected representative – someone who will act in the public interest, who respects the trust the community has placed in them and who involves them in informed decision-making.

“That is why I have signed ‘The Politicians’ Pledge’ to conduct an honest campaign and to uphold these values if I’m elected on May 18.

“We’ve seen in previous years how negative the final weeks of an election can become. I hope all other candidates join me in making this commitment to stick to the high road, not the low road.”

Dr Haines said trust in government and Australian democracy was declining and people expected their politicians and public servants to be held to account for conduct in public office.

“Politicians hold immense responsibility,” she said.

“They are entrusted to represent their constituents’ views and to use public resources for the betterment of society as a whole, rather than a select few.

“Yet, despite all the states having anti-corruption commissions, there is still no federal integrity commission with adequate powers and resourcing to do the job properly.

“The current legislation prevents members of the public reporting corruption, limits investigation to criminal-level offences and is insufficiently funded. We need to do much more to ensure integrity in government and to hold all elected politicians and public servants to account.

“I support the creation of a National Integrity Commission that has both the appropriate powers – such as the power to hold public hearings and publish findings – and adequate funding to deal with political and public sector misconduct and corruption.

“Cathy McGowan has led this charge and if elected I will take up that fight to ensure the next Parliament legislates a powerful, far-reaching integrity commission, not a weak, watered down version.”

The Politicians’ Pledge

As originally conceived, the practice of politics is intended to be a noble calling – the arena within which a citizen might contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a good society.

Yet, without voluntary, ethical restraint, the pursuit and exercise of power risks becoming personal, brutal and self-serving; coarsening the polity, bringing public institutions into disrepute and damaging the common weal*.

So, consistent with the highest ideals of our profession, I promise that:

In this federal election campaign, I will:

 

  • Act in good conscience;
  • Enable informed decision making by my fellow citizens;
  • Respect the intrinsic dignity of all;
  • Refrain from exploiting my rivals' private failings for political gain, and
  • Act so as to merit the trust and respect of the community.

 

If elected to the Parliament of Australia, I will:

 

  • Give effect to the ideals of democratic government and represent the interests of my electorate as a whole;
  • Abide by the letter and spirit of the Constitution and uphold the rule of law;
  • Advance the public interest before any personal, sectional or partisan interest;
  • Hold myself accountable for conduct for which I am responsible, and
  • Exercise the privileges and discharge the duties of public office with dignity, care and honour.

 

Definition * body politic