Chris Ison

Ministers may be able to hold shares

QUEENSLAND Government ministers may be able to delve into the share market once again if advice regarding changes to the Ministerial Code of Conduct is followed.

Premier Campbell Newman publicly released advice he sought on the current code, last amended by former premier Peter Beattie in 2008, from Parliamentary Clerk Neil Laurie and Integrity Commissioner David Solomon.

The clerk and integrity commissioner questioned the necessity of a rule forbidding ministers from holding shares in any company.

The pair, through their advice to the Premier, queried whether such absolute rules and rules of divestment were actually in the public interest.

They stated there was disparity between the code of conduct and Queensland Parliament's disclosure regime as a result of changes to the code.

Prior to Mr Beattie's changes on the 20th anniversary of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, ministers were required to divest themselves from shareholdings in companies where a conflict of interest could arise.

Otherwise, ministers were required to lodge their interests with the clerk.

As it stands, even the partners of ministers should not hold shares in a company they are not employed by.

Mr Newman said the advice would be displayed online for feedback.

"The independent advice is now available for public comment on the Queensland Government website and feedback will be used to help formulate the finalised draft of the Ministerial Code of Conduct," he said.

The advice can be viewed at www.premiers.qld.gov.au.
 
 


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