find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Tougher laws for ex-pollies

Tougher laws for ex-pollies

The Australian Democrats are calling for tough new laws to regulate the commercial activities of former government ministers. Senator Andrew Murray, the Democrats accountability spokesman, says…

The Australian Democrats are calling for tough new laws to regulate the commercial activities of former government ministers.

Senator Andrew Murray, the Democrats accountability spokesman, says the matter is one of urgency, especially given the persistence of rumours circulating about the future employment prospects of members of the former Coalition government.

“We’ve always thought the law should be strengthened to deal with the conflict of interest matters,” Murray said. “The difficulty with any situation where ministers will take up … employment opportunities [after being in Cabinet] is that if you have an unenforceable code, which is what the new administration has, then you can never really ensure that the situations you’re trying to avoid actually prevail or are prevented.”

The Rudd Government’s voluntary code of conduct is an unsatisfactory safeguard against conflict of interest, according to the Democrats spokesman. “I don’t think the current government is interested in making the changes we propose. What they have done is introduced a better code [than the previous government], an internal code. But the difficulty with any code is enforceability, and the fact remains that the next administration can change it.”

Instead, Murray believes that penalties, including criminal sanctions, need to be considered. Other jurisdictions impose criminal penalties on former politicians who abuse their power. In the United States, there is a two-year ban imposed on former members of the executive lobbying in their former area of responsibility, with a five-year imprisonment penalty for failure to comply.

The proposed laws would act akin to a “restraint of trade clause”, bringing politicians into line with other professionals in possession of sensitive market information. “It’s a restraint on trade. It’s not a restraint on getting employment,” Murray explained.

“In the legal world you would describe that as a restraint of trade … It has exactly the same genesis. An important point to note is that ministers have access to privileged information which is often [commercial] in confidence which has great value to third-parties.”

Senator Murray says the broader remuneration problem still needs to be addressed in order to attract people to public life. “If you address that properly and pay people properly for the job they do, you will then attract people into the profession. Of course, many people don’t enter it for the money; if that was the case I wouldn’t be there for a start,” he said.

“[The] number one [priority] is to attend to the broad remuneration area; number two is attend to the broad political governance area. The problem is that if you wait for the first two to occur, the [tougher legislation] will never occur and in the meantime you get former ministers in extremely sensitive areas with privileged information profiting from that use of that privileged information.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Tougher laws for ex-pollies
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...