Albanese enacts changes to ministerial code of conduct

By Anna Macdonald

July 11, 2022

Anthony Albanese
Prime minister Anthony Albanese. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has updated the ministerial codes of conduct, now requiring ministers to divest their interests in any public or private company or business, with one exception. 

The code also requires divestment in a company that may result in a perception of a conflict of interest. 

The exception is where the investments are ‘broadly diversified’ and where the fund or trust does not invest in a business where the minister would have a conflict of interest. 

The updates come after former attorney-general Christian Porter used a blind trust to assist in a defamation case against public broadcaster ABC, as previously reported by The Mandarin

Amongst the updated code is the continuation of prime minister Malcolm Turnball’s so-called ‘bonk ban’, which precludes ministers from engaging in sexual relations with their staff. The ban was put in place following Barnaby Joyce’s extramarital affair with his staffer.

In the foreword for the conduct, Albanese said his government is committed to ‘integrity, honesty and accountability’.

“Everyone has the right to a safe and respectful workplace. Inappropriate behaviour in the workplace will not be tolerated.

“This code is underpinned by key principles that Ministers must act with due regard for integrity, fairness, accountability, responsibility and the public interest,” wrote Albanese.

An inquiry into parliamentary workplaces by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins released last year found an ‘unacceptably high’ level of mistreatment in a Commonwealth parliamentary workplace. 

“A lack of clear standards of conduct, limited accountability and power imbalances, combine with the high-intensity, high stakes nature of the work, the pursuit of political power and advantage, the frequent blurring of personal and professional life and the intense loyalty to political parties to create specific risk factors unique to this workplace,” Jenkins said at the time. 

The code requires ministers to engage with independent complaints mechanisms when it comes to workplace-dispute resolutions. 

In another area, the code requires an 18-month period after leaving office before ministers may lobby or meet in business meetings with members of the government they had dealings with whilst in office. 


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