QUESTION: Register of Members' Interests

In Question Time, Mark asked the Treasurer about conflict of interest in relation to Members of Parliament disclosing their membership of organisations. 


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Recent events in Canberra have shown that political careers can flounder on a lack of full disclosure in relation to Members of Parliament, and ministers in particular, who fail to disclose their membership of various organisations. In South Australia, the obligation of Members of Parliament to lodge an annual ordinary return of their declaration of interest does not include a requirement to disclose membership of sporting clubs, community organisations or other entities, other than a very limited range of union, trade, business, professional or similar organisations.

So my question of the minister is: what steps will the Government take to ensure that membership of sporting clubs, community organisations or other entities is fully and publicly disclosed by all Ministers and other Members of Parliament?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): This is a reasonable question. I am certainly happy to take that on notice and take advice in relation to the issue. The members of parliament pecuniary interest register, 100 years ago when the parliament was first established, I suspect was probably as a result of legislation and requirements of the house as opposed to government dictate. I will come back with a more considered legal view—again, as I cover myself; I am not a lawyer. That's my recollection of the Members of Parliament pecuniary interest register.

I do know and I used to chuckle that the former member for Mallee or the member for Hammond used to take up two pages of organisations that he had an association with. They included sporting clubs and a whole variety of other clubs. The member is right; I don't think it requires it, but a number of members do reveal their various interests in their interpretation of the members of parliament pecuniary interests issue.

The member's question is probably more particularly directed to ministers in relation to requirements, because the events of Canberra to which he refers relate to ministers and decisions they take. Members of parliament, whilst they can sometimes be attempted to be hung, drawn and quartered by their association with a club or association, in the end don't have executive decision-making capacity to give grants, for example. They can advocate for grants, of course, and those sorts of things. But let me take the honourable member's question on notice and come back with a more considered and informed response than the brief one I have been able to give him off the cuff this afternoon.