Register of Interests Act. Our Attorney-General’s Chambers has finally produced a draft Register of Interests Act. Regular readers will know how long we have been asking for this to be done. The most recent was on 19 February. It all goes back to the Constitution. In particular, section 60A. This provides:
60A. (1) The Speaker shall maintain a Register of Interests in accordance with this section.
What is a register of interests, and why is it so important? When we are looking at parliamentarians and, especially, those who are appointed to public office, and speaking of a register of interests we are referring to a report made by the members of their financial interests. These include interests held in the name of a spouse or child or company. Requiring such a report is a completely useless exercise if the report is not made under penalty of perjury and required to be published for all who are interested to see. The official reason why this publication is important is said to be so we can see if a member has an interest which causes a conflict of interest with his public office. The unofficial reason is for us the members of the public to see if our representative is getting suspiciously rich as a result of his holding public office. This is usually a sign of corruption. We can take steps to have him prosecuted at best, or at the least ensure he is not re-elected to the House.
It is no use at all if the register of interests is not published. In
When we get our Register of Interests legislation, will we take the same precautions as the
Will we demand strong and muscular legislation?
Or, will we be happy with keeping a guard dog with all its teeth pulled?