ACCOUNTABILITY and OPEN GOVERNMENT (P5a)

The Community Alliance Party aims to transform the ACT into an interactive, living democracy. The Alliance expects the ACT Government to deal with the community with integrity, openness and transparency at all times.

With majority government and an ineffectual opposition, the ACT Chief Minister and Cabinet have enjoyed almost unfettered power for the last four years. The Assembly has become little more than a talking shop. Only minority government can revive effective checks and balances in the governance of the ACT.

Accountability

The Alliance will work to increase the accountability of government and strengthen the role of the Assembly in government decision-making through greater use and empowerment of Assembly committees.
Alliance MLAs will demand the removal from office of Ministers who are found to have misled the Assembly or brought it into disrepute.

Transparency

The Alliance supports open and transparent decision-making. This necessitates a new presumption that official documents are open, other than those relating to matters of privacy, national security and genuine Cabinet records. The Alliance will seek to amend the Freedom of Information Act accordingly. This will strengthen public scrutiny of the government decision-making process and empower communities by allowing them to reach their own informed decisions.
The Alliance will review the ACT Public Interest Disclosure Act (2012) to increase protection for whistleblowers who act in the public interest, for example, by revealing the misuse of public funds, breach of trust, insider trading, bribes or misuse of information in the public or private sector and deemed to be a criminal offence in the ACT.
The Alliance believes in the prompt and full disclosure of all donations and loans to political parties and candidates.

Integrity

The Alliance believes that the ACT Government is subject to the same laws and standards as the rest of the community. It must respect the separation of powers and the decisions of the judiciary and allow them to be in charge of their own administration.
The Alliance supports campaign finance reform, including restricting all donations to political parties and electoral campaigns to individuals registered to vote in the ACT.
The Alliance will insist that the watchdogs of democracy are resourced and empowered appropriately to be able to act as a proper and vigilant guardian of the ACT. This includes the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Ombudsman, and the Auditor General. Compliance with the Auditor General's recommendations should be mandatory.
The Alliance supports the establishment of an Integrity Commission along the lines recommended by the ACT Ombudsman to the Hawke Review. Its role would be to help citizens making complaints against the ACT Government, and to receive and investigate complaints about MLAs, their staff, and the judiciary. The Commission will be empowered to suspend MLAs facing criminal prosecution.
The Alliance will establish new governance mechanisms to provide proper leadership to governmental and quasi-governmental agencies.

Community participation

The Alliance will work with communities to develop innovative solutions to problems. A genuine exchange of information and ideas will allow government to identify needs, minimise waste and maximise effectiveness in the provision of community services and facilities. It will confer legitimacy on decisions. Community consultation and negotiation are essential at all stages and all levels of the decision-making process.
The Alliance supports the 'open source governance' movement allowing any citizen to contribute to the creation of policy.
Consultative bodies and advocacy groups already exist. As part of the ACT community, they must be kept informed of government plans and actions before major decisions are made.
The Alliance will introduce legislation to enable recall elections of MLAs by petition of electors.
The Alliance supports, on an experimental basis, the establishment of 'citizen councils', akin to jury service, to examine major pieces of proposed legislation and offer independent advice in referenda.