Politicians are paid more than 98 per cent of Australians. It’s reasonable to ask if taxpayers are getting value for money.
In the private sector, your pay is tied to your performance. For politicians, your pay rise is automatic. There is no key performance indicator politicians are required to meet. It’s simply assumed they are doing a good enough job to warrant a pay rise.
The question of whether we as taxpayers are getting a good price for our political class is an open one. The relationship between the value of political remuneration and quality of political representation is far from established.[i]
But with Australians experiencing record-low wage growth and with the cost of living growing, it’s unsustainable to pay politicians with no regard to what taxpayers receive in return.
Instead, the Jacqui Lambie Network will:
Legislate to have politicians’ pay set independently in accordance with changes in the wage price index. When the wage price index goes up, so too can politician pay. That way, politicians don’t get a pay rise unless Australia gets a pay rise.
Every state and territory government in the country has its own anti-corruption watchdog, except one. The one that controls the most money, that makes decisions affecting the most people, operates in the most darkness.
It would be naïve to suggest that political corruption only exists at a state and local government level. In Australia’s political system, the power of the Parliament is supreme. Every decision that is made and every law that is passed is handed over to the courts to enforce and the public to abide by.
Parliament has an enormous amount of power and very little oversight to make sure that power is not corrupted. We can’t rely on the courts to reject an unjust law, or the public to oppose an unjust decision. We require accountability to make sure that the decisions of the Parliament, right or wrong, reflect the will of the people – not just the will of donors or political benefactors.
There’s no group of people in Australia so distrusted as politicians. Politicians aren’t trusted to set their own pay because we don’t believe they’ll do the right thing. So if we don’t trust them to do the right thing on their own pay and conditions, why do we think they’ll just do the right thing on matters that affect the rest of us, without any accountability or transparency over their decision-making process?
Politics needs a cop on the beat and that cop needs the power to investigate, independent of Government. Federal politics needs a code of ethics and an independent, ICAC-style watchdog to make sure that code is followed.
The Jacqui Lambie Network supports a national anti-corruption commission
Parliament needs a code of ethics and the commission needs to be given the task of enforcing it. The commission needs investigative powers to be able to produce evidence and chase tips, and Parliament needs a joint, multi-party standing committee to hear cases to be brought to it by the anti-corruption commission and make recommendations for penalty if a breach is found.
Tasmania’s state government has an unusually large presence in the state economy. And with that high degree of state involvement in the economy comes even greater importance that the public has oversight of the way the state is spending taxpayer’s money.
The State Liberal Government has cut the budget of the State Integrity Commission, failed to progress a code of conduct for state MPs and left Tasmania the only state in the country where “misconduct in public office” isn’t a crime.[ii]
Tasmanians demand accountability, and the Jacqui Lambie Network will deliver it.
Restore the funding cut from the State Integrity Commission, to give the state’s anti-corruption watchdog the power it needs to do its job.
Amend the state’s criminal code to make misconduct in public office a crime. Every elected official should be doing their job for their state, not for their mates.
Draft a code of conduct for all state MPs, and commit to our own voluntary code of conduct until such time as all MPs are bound by the same rules.
The Jacqui Lambie Network is proud to have the most transparent donations policy in the country.
We publish our donations, even though we don’t have to. We disclose in real-time, even though we don’t have to. We cap our donations, even though we don’t have to.
And we do it because you deserve to know.
The rules say political parties don’t need to do any of this. We say the rules need changing.
We publish the name, date and amount of every personal donation above $500, and every donation made by an organisation of any value.
In order to do so we need to process donations by hand, which takes a bit longer. We aspire to instant, real-time disclosure but, recognising that we don’t have the staff or infrastructure to guarantee it, maintain a target of 90 per cent of donations disclosed within 48 hours.
We don’t accept donations from organisations above $5,000.
We reserve the right to reject and refund any donation at the sole discretion of the JLN.
Lobbying is a fundamental democratic right that should be available to everybody who wants the chance to put their case to their elected representative.
But instead of being an opportunity for everybody to have their issue considered, lobbying has become a get-rich-quick scheme for former politicians and their staff. Ex-politicians are hired to lean on their former colleagues for favours and special treatment. Instead of democratising access, it’s stacking the deck.
The laws around lobbying are weak to non-existent. Most lobbying activity is governed at a federal level by two voluntary codes: the Ministerial Statement of Standards and the Lobbying Code of Conduct. Both are unlegislated and carry no real penalty for breaches. They exist to make it look like there are rules to the game. And by giving the appearance of regulation, they in fact do more damage than if nothing existed at all. People think they’re protected from undue influence from political lobbyists, but they are not. And it’s about time that changed.
The Jacqui Lambie Network supports the regulation and enforcement of lobbying activity at a state and federal level. Lobbying protections should make sure no client receives an unfair advantage from being able to employ a former Minister. They should give mums and dads the same chance to put their case as the big end of town. They should give the public the confidence they need that when the government of the day makes a decision, they’re doing it because it’s what’s best for the public – not just what’s best for the responsible Minister’s future employment opportunities.
[ii] Matt Smith. "Kellam lashes government ‘obstacles’." Themercury.com.au, 7 Aug. 2015, http://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/outgoing-integrity-commission-chief-lashes-state-government-over-obstacles/news-story/cf2dba3c88d2a5470d389c490aa4ea89. Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.