7. Duties and Responsibilities of Board Members
Over and above the duties and obligations placed upon their private sector counterparts, members of Government Boards assume a public trust and confidence by virtue of their role in public administration.
In accordance with the Queensland Cabinet Handbook, to manage risks associated with appointments to Government Boards, information on a person's suitability for appointment is obtained for all appointments, including those which are considered by Cabinet as a Significant Appointment submission and those made by a Minister rather than Cabinet. All candidates proposed for appointment to a Government Board are requested to complete a personal particulars form to assist in assessing their suitability for nomination/appointment. It is noted on the form that candidates are responsible for advising the relevant Minister in writing of any changes to the information provided during their term of appointment.
Government Board members must act ethically so as to support the continuation of public trust in the government and to observe the highest standards of behaviour and accountability. The obligations placed on Government Board members are strict, particularly because in many cases members are responsible for spending taxpayers' money and the custody and control of public assets.
These obligations include informing the relevant Minister of any changes to a board member’s circumstances that could impact on the board member’s suitability to continue to serve on the board. For example, a board member who is also a Director of a company, should immediately advise the Minister if the company is put into voluntary administration (where an external administrator is appointed to attempt to save the company from financial trouble). The Minister would then be in a position to consider whether it was appropriate for the board member to continue to serve on the Government Board.
Legal obligations placed on Government Board members may be derived from:
- the enabling Act constituting the Government Board
- the general law (as opposed to statute law), including any fiduciary duties imposed on the Government Board member
- any relevant statutory enactments.
The nature and extent of some of these obligations is outlined below. The information is very general and different requirements apply to different entities. Therefore Government Board members should make their own enquiries and familiarise themselves with the obligations and duties arising from their position.
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