Restoring integrity and transparency to NSW politics

In Parliament |

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has used his Budget Reply speech to outline a raft of measures to restore integrity and transparency to NSW politics. 

Starting by reversing the Baird Government’s funding cuts to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, a Foley Labor Government would also boost support for the NSW Electoral Commission so that political donations could be thoroughly investigated and properly policed. 

Labor’s plan to introduce donation and election spending caps for council elections would increase the workload of the Commission. 

It is vital the Commission be adequately funded to undertake this work, as well as have more capacity for a ‘flying squad’ of investigators to launch fast and effective examination of organisations like the Free Enterprise Foundation. 

Labor would also establish a permanent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) to independently assess policy initiatives from all sides, in line with Victoria and the Commonwealth. 

A permanent PBO will improve the standard of policy making and legislative decision making in NSW – allowing all parties and independent members the ability to accurately define and cost policy ideas. 

Labor would also move to recognise modern community activism by allowing E-petitions to be submitted alongside paper petitions to the NSW Parliament. Queensland, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory already allow E-petitions – it’s time to bring NSW into the 21st Century. 

The initiatives form part of a reform package aimed at restoring integrity and transparency to NSW politics – especially local government. 

On Tuesday, under the cover of the state budget, Premier Mike Baird sought to sweep a broken promise under the rug when he introduced legislation that fails to cap expenditure on local council elections. 

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley 

“When ICAC was investigating Labor Party figures it rightly received the funding required to do its job. 

“Now that it has shifted its attention to Liberal Party identities, it’s forced to make do with less funding and fewer staff. 

“In his inaugural speech the Premier spoke loftily about the erosion of integrity in Australian politics. 

“Mike Baird talks a lot about integrity but actions speak louder than words. His nobbling of ICAC and the backflip on cleaning up local government will long be remembered.  

“The Electoral Commission should be given greater resources so that it can operate a properly resourced flying squad to tackle the dodgy donors and shonky lobbyists - with a particular focus on local government.” 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park 

“The public needs to know that elections in our state are conducted fairly and are a contest of ideas - not dodgy deals - and that the public interest always comes first. 

“The establishment of a permanent budget office would enhance transparency and strengthen fiscal responsibility and improve the standard of policy making and legislative decision making. 

“E-petitions are a sensible measure that recognise modern activism and brings the NSW Parliament into the 21st Century.” 

Labor’s plan for integrity and transparency 

  1. Real-time disclosure of state political donations to NSW Labor – the first such commitment by any party leader in Australia;
  2. Spending and donations caps for local government elections;
  3. A ban on property developers and real estate agents sitting as elected councilors;
  4. A permanent Parliamentary Budget Office;
  5. Restoration of cuts to the ICAC budget and ongoing support for ICAC public hearings;
  6. Increased funding for NSW Electoral Commission to audit political donations and conduct investigations – with a focus on local government.