Code of Conduct for Members
This Code of Conduct has been prepared to provide members of the Commission with information about expected standards of conduct and to clarify where the boundaries of such conduct lie.
Compliance with this Code requires members to exercise their statutory powers and functions in accordance with four core responsibilities:
- to act honestly and lawfully;
- to act in good faith;
- to act with due care and skill; and
- to avoid conflicts between personal and official interests.
If any doubt exists as to the propriety of any course of action, members should consult the other members at the earliest opportunity. Where the propriety of any course of action involves or raises legal issues or consequences, members should consult the General Counsel of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development at the earliest opportunity.
Conflicts of interest
Members should perform their official duties without fear or favour and regardless of any expectation that they (or persons associated with them) will benefit or suffer as a consequence.
Members are legally bound by section 47 of the International Air Services Act 1992 (the Act) in relation to disclosure of interests. Section 47 of the Act states that:
- If a member has or acquires any interest, whether monetary or otherwise, that could conflict with the proper performance of his or her functions in relation to proceedings conducted by the Commission:
- the member must disclose the interest to the other members and to any parties to the proceedings;and
- except with the consent of the other members and the parties (if any), the member must not take part, or any further part, as the case may be, in the proceedings.
- a member becomes aware that another member has, in relation to proceedings conducted by the Commission, an interest of a kind referred to in subsection (1); and
- the other member has not disclosed the interest as required by paragraph (1)(a);
- the first-mentioned member must tell the other member that he or she has become aware that the other member has the interest; and
- if the other member does not then disclose the interest as required by paragraph (1)(a), the first-mentioned member must disclose the interest to the remaining member (if any) and the parties (if any) to the proceedings; and
- except with the consent of the other members and the parties (if any), the member who has the interest must not take part, or any further part, as the case may be, in the proceedings.
A potential conflict of interest may arise where a member must make a decision concerning a company for or in which that member previously worked or has previously acted as a consultant.
A potential conflict may also arise where a member holds another public office and a decision must be made that overlaps with the subject area of that other office. A member would be in a situation of actual or potential conflict where the member has acquired confidential information in a capacity other than as a member of the Commission (i.e., where there is an interest or duty in that capacity to protect the confidentiality of the information) and where there is or could be an interest or duty as member to make the IASC aware of that information because it is relevant to a matter to be determined by the IASC.
Consistent with section 47, members should raise any such potential conflicts of interest with the other members.
In assessing conflict of interest issues, members should have regard to their own financial and non-financial interests, personal and professional relationships (past or present) and the financial and non-financial interests of their immediate family to the extent that members know such interests. Members should inform each other in writing on a bi-annual basis of all their relevant interests.
Members should be aware that a conflict of interest may arise in the period immediately after their appointment concludes and should take this into consideration in participating in the making of decisions in relation to a company for which he or she is proposing to work post appointment. They should also take this potential conflict into account when making decisions about future work opportunities.
The Commission includes in its annual report the requirement for members to comply with their obligation to disclose their interests in accordance with section 47 of the Act.
Members should not seek to use their position, or information received in the course of their duties with the Commission, in pursuit of any personal or professional interest. Benefits in the form of gifts, sponsored travel or hospitality (including the promise or inference of future benefit for a member or their immediate family) should only be accepted in accordance with the principles of this Code. Beyond this requirement, members should not accept any benefit where acceptance might give an appearance that they may be subject to improper influence.
Where gifts, benefits, travel or hospitality are accepted, this should be disclosed in writing in a timely manner to the other members. Such disclosures will be placed on an internal register to be kept by the Secretariat of the Commission.
Members are provided with facilities at public expense in order that public business may be conducted effectively. Facilities include transportation and hotel accommodation when travelling interstate to conduct Commission business. Accordingly, members should avoid giving any appearance of using their statutory office for private purposes or personal benefit. As a general rule, official facilities should be used for official purposes only.
Contact with interest groups
Members may become the target of interest groups seeking to influence the Commission in its decisions. Dealings with interest groups should be conducted in a manner that does not give rise to any appearance of improper influence or conflict of interest. It is advisable for members to ascertain what company or interests each interest group represents so that informed judgements may be made about the appropriateness of such interaction or dealings.
Interaction with members of the Australian Public Service
Members interact with the staff of the IASC Secretariat on a regular basis. The Secretariat officers are employed under the Public Service Act 1999 (the Public Service Act) by the Australian Public Service (APS). APS employees are governed by the Public Service Act which requires them to adhere (as a matter of law) to principles including:-
- honesty and integrity;
- equitable service to the public;
- provision of frank and comprehensive advice to ministers (“members” in the case of the IASC);
- a strong emphasis on responsiveness to the government, the Parliament and the community;
- party-political impartiality; and
- employment based on merit.
Members should avoid asking APS employees to do anything that these principles do not permit. As statutory office holders, members are bound by the APS Code of Conduct, as set out in s.13 of the Public Service Act, to the extent that they are assisted by or deal with APS employees in a supervisory capacity.
Except in the course of official duties, members should not give or disclose, directly or indirectly, any information they acquire by virtue of their position.
Members may have to account for the exercise of their statutory powers to the Parliament (or one of its committees), the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman and the courts. The general grounds for challenging administrative decisions made under legislation are set out in the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. In essence the basic requirements for decision making include:
- each decision needs to be within the scope of the power provided by the legislation;
- the procedure for reaching the decision needs to meet basic standards of fairness, allowing all sides to present their cases, and must also comply with any special requirements set by the legislation;
- each decision needs to be made on the merits of the case, with the decision-maker unbiased and acting in good faith; and
- conclusions must be soundly based in reason, in particular they must reflect a proper understanding of the law, draw on reasonable evidence for findings of fact, take account of all relevant considerations and not take account of irrelevant considerations.
End of Appointment
Members who commence discussions with potential clients or employers should be aware that this can give rise to real or perceived conflicts of interest. Members should inform the other members of the fact and nature of the discussions.
In the interests of maintaining the confidence of the Government and the public in the ability of the Commission to conduct itself fairly and impartially on behalf of all sectors of the public, on cessation of appointment, members will be required to give an undertaking in writing to the Chairperson, and in the case of the Chairperson to the other members, that:
- they will observe the confidentiality undertaking entered into at the commencement of their appointment; and
- they will neither take, nor use, materials and data which are not ordinarily available to the public.
Dated: 13 September 2013
- Code of Conduct for Members: PDF Version [PDF: 1116 KB]