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    7.10 Code of conduct

    Members of Government Bodies assume a position of public trust and confidence as outlined above. As such, members of the public rightly expect these appointees to follow certain ethical principles.

    The Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (the Ethics Act) applies to ‘public officials’ who are defined in that Act to mean ‘an officer or employee of a public sector entity’. ‘Public sector entity’ is defined to include a “commission, authority, office, corporation or instrumentality established under an Act or under state or local government authorisation for a public, state or local government purpose.” It also includes any entity, prescribed by regulation, that is assisted by public funds. However, the definition of ‘public sector entity’ in the Ethics Act expressly excludes certain specified entities including Government Owned Corporations (GOCs).

    Therefore, the Ethics Act applies to a Government Board if it is a ‘public sector entity’. It applies to statutory authorities or corporations assisted by public funds or established for a public purpose, but does not apply to GOCs.

    The Ethics Act prescribes five “ethics principles” which are declared to be fundamental to good public administration:

    1. respect for the law and the system of government
    2. respect for persons
    3. integrity
    4. diligence
    5. economy and efficiency.

    The five ethical principles apply to public officials as “ethical obligations” and are intended to provide the basis for codes of conduct for public officials and are not of themselves legally enforceable. The Chief Executive Officer of a public sector entity has an obligation to ensure that a code of conduct is prepared for the entity.

    The Department of the Premier and Cabinet's Code of Conduct (November 2009) is an example of a code of conduct which was developed pursuant to the Ethics Act. The Code applies to members of Government Boards within the Premier's portfolio insofar as they use public resources or have access to official information.

    The Code is divided into sections which deal with specific requirements under each of the five ethical principles. The Code also contains many hypothetical examples together with a Registration of Personal Interests Form (appended to the end of the Code). A copy of this Form appears as Attachment 4 to this guide.

    The relevant enabling legislation may prescribe specific ethics obligations for an organisation:

    Example: Development Assessment Panels for iconic places established under the Iconic Queensland Places Act 2008

    Section 36 Disclosure of material personal interests

    1. This section applies if:
      1. a member has a material personal interest in an issue being considered, or about to be considered, by the panel
      2. the material personal interest could conflict with the proper performance of the member's functions relating to the issue.
    2. The member must, as soon as practicable, disclose the material personal interest to all the other members.
    3. If a member has disclosed a material personal interest in an issue, the member must not participate in the panel's consideration of the issue.

    If the Ethics Act does not apply to the entity, the legislation creating the entity should be specifically examined to determine officers' ethical responsibilities.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    29 July, 2010