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Speech Public Sector (Ministerial Travel Reports) Amendment Bill

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:58): I rise on behalf of the Greens to speak in support of this bill. In doing so, I would like to acknowledge not only the mover, the Hon. Sarah Game, but also the efforts of my Greens colleague, the Hon. Robert Simms, and his ongoing efforts in fighting for transparency and proactive disclosure in this place.


The function of this bill is clear and straightforward. It standardises the reporting of ministerial travel. It places an obligation on ministers to report the reason and necessity for travel, and the cost of travel including transportation, accommodation, food, beverages and activity expenses. With greater transparency, we can ensure government decisions, spending and services are fair, honest and meeting the needs of our community.


Our government should always ensure that public funds are spent efficiently and fairly. Trust in government is crucial to a healthy democracy. Sadly, we do not have the level of trust that we should at the moment, and measures like this will go some way towards creating that trust.


We need to have confidence in our government's ability to discharge its responsibilities honestly, fairly and in the public interest. Giving the public access to this information held by government does play an important role in building that confidence. However, too often public money is wasted on projects and trips that have minimal benefit to the taxpayer. This creates waste, poor policy outcomes and indeed could promote a corrupt culture.


A study conducted in 2018 led by Griffith University in collaboration with Transparency International Australia revealed that 56 per cent of respondents had either personally witnessed or suspected public officials making decisions favouring businesses or individuals who had provided political donations or support. More recent findings from the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer also indicate a significant decline in trust across all Australian institutions, with only 52 per cent of Australians expressing trust in the government's ability to act in the best interests of the public.


The Greens have long advocated for improved political transparency. This is one step. To do that we know that nobody should be above scrutiny in our democracy. Everyone benefits from a culture of honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability in politics. It is what we all deserve. With that, I commend the bill.

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