The opportunity afforded to ministerial staff to provide advice and assistance to Ministers carries with it an obligation to act at all times with integrity and observe the highest standards of conduct.
While ministerial staff work closely with public servants, this code recognises that their role complements, and does not supplant, the role of the Australian Public Service.
Ministerial staff and consultants and Ministers’ electorate officers employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 must:
- Behave honestly and with integrity in the course of their employment.
- Act with care and diligence in the performance of their duties.
- Disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflicts of interest (real or apparent) in connection with their employment, noting that staff are required to provide their employing Minister with a statement of private interests.
- Divest themselves, or relinquish control, of interests in any private company or business and/or direct interest in any public company involved in the area of their Ministers’ portfolio responsibilities.
- Declare to their employing Minister in writing, within a reasonable time, all hospitality, gifts and sponsored travel received in association with their employment and otherwise comply with any applicable gift policy.
- Have no involvement in outside employment or in the daily work of any business, or retain a directorship of a company, without the written agreement of their Minister.
- Conduct themselves in a manner that supports a safe and respectful workplace for everyone.
- Treat with respect and courtesy all those with whom they have contact in the course of their employment.
- Make themselves aware of the Values and Code of Conduct which bind Australian Public Service (APS) and Parliamentary Service employees.
- When travelling overseas on official business, behave in a manner consistent with the APS Values and Code of Conduct, to the extent they apply to officials on duty overseas.
- Not knowingly or intentionally encourage or induce a public official by their decisions, directions or conduct to breach the law or parliamentary obligations or fail to comply with an applicable code of ethical conduct.
- Recognise that ministerial staff are employed in line with Westminster principles and are accountable to their Minister.
- Acknowledge that ministerial staff do not have the power to direct APS employees in their own right and that APS employees are not subject to their direction.
- Recognise that executive decisions are the preserve of Ministers and public servants and not ministerial staff acting in their own right.
- Facilitate direct and effective communication between their Minister’s department and their Minister.
- Use Commonwealth resources for the effective conduct of public business in a proper manner. Commonwealth resources are not to be subject to wasteful or extravagant use, and due economy is to be observed at all times. Ministerial staff must be scrupulous in ensuring the legitimacy and accuracy of any claim for entitlements.
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality about their dealings with their Minister, other Ministers, other ministerial staff, and APS and Parliamentary Service employees.
- Not knowingly or intentionally provide false or misleading information in response to a request for information that is made for official purposes in connection with their employment.
- Not make improper use of their position or access to information to gain or seek to gain a benefit or advantage for themselves or any other person.
- Abide by all applicable probity requirements, including guidelines relating to government tenders.
- Abide by the principles and applicable requirements of the Parliamentary Business Resources framework.
- Comply with any authorised and reasonable direction received in the course of their employment, including a direction to undertake training on workplace conduct.
- Comply with all applicable Australian laws.
- Comply with all applicable codes of conduct, including the Lobbying Code of Conduct.
- Be mindful that social media is publicly accessible and ensure their personal social media use is consistent with these standards.
- Familiarise themselves with this Code of Conduct upon the commencement of their employment.
i. References to Ministers and ministerial staff include Assistant Ministers and their staff.
ii. Electorate officers for Ministers are covered by the Ministerial Staff Code of Conduct in recognition of the role they play assisting Ministers to perform their duties.
iii. The consequences for any breaches of this code will be determined following consultation with an employing Minister.