joint statement

10 November 2022

Parliamentarian Code of Conduct must reflect public values of integrity and respect

Today, advocacy groups, integrity experts and sexual violence services have released a joint statement calling on the Federal Government to deliver a Parliamentarian Code of Conduct that will ensure respect and integrity in the Parliament.

The Parliamentary Standards Committee is currently drafting a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians, due to be handed down on 1 December.

“Our organisations are concerned about the reports of violence and discrimination in Parliament. A strong Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians is one of the best ways to ensure the Parliament models values of respect and integrity, as well as makes clear that violence, inequity and discrimination have no place in our Parliament.” said Alyssa Shaw, Campaign Manager for Fair Agenda.

“When parliamentarians fail to behave in accordance with basic levels of respect and integrity, the damage they inflict is far-reaching. Parliament needs a code of conduct that explicitly references racism, gender-based violence, ableism and other forms of discrimination, to ensure our leaders are held to the same standards as everyone else in the community,“ said Alice Drury, Acting Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre.

It has been one year since the ‘Set the Standard’ report on parliamentary workplace conduct and culture was handed down Australian Democracy Network, Democracy in Colour, Fair Agenda, Human Rights Law Centre, the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence (NASASV) and Transparency International Australia have come together to demand the Parliamentarian Code of Conduct address issues of violence and discrimination.

“Based on Commissioner Jenkins reports we know that many people working in the Parliament have experienced sexual violence. Parliament is a workplace, but it is also the heart of our democracy. Our Parliament must continue to support survivors, but we also need our leaders to deliver a strong Code that sends a clear message: that sexual violence is unacceptable” said Joanne Sheehan-Paterson, Chair of National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence (NASASV).

“To ensure respect in the Parliamentary workplace, a strong Code must explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of ability, age, gender, intersex status, race, religion and sexual orientation. As Australia’s population becomes more diverse, our representatives have a responsibility to ensure that racial justice is embedded in our governance. The Code of Conduct has enormous potential to lead the way and set the standard for racial justice as well as gender justice,” said Shae Flanagan, racial justice advocate for Democracy in Colour.

“Parliamentarians are role models to our community. To ensure that this Code is fit for purpose it must apply to all conduct that relates to a parliamentarians duties and responsibilities – both professional, and sometimes, personal: in cases where this conduct is damaging to their role as representatives. The behaviours of Parliamentarians must reflect the values and high expectations of national leaders and representatives at all times,” said Alyssa Shaw.

“We want to see a strong, representative democracy that exemplifies the values of Australia. We want to see our Parliament act with integrity and respect in service to our community. We need a Parliamentarian Code of Conduct that reflects these aspirations” said Saffron Zomer, Executive Director of Australian Democracy Network.

“This is an opportunity for the Parliament to set a high standard for Australia, and for the conduct we will accept” – Clancy Moore, CEO of Transparency International Australia.