Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has introduced a tough new ministerial code of conduct that will limit the ability of Government ministers to take up lucrative consultancies after they retire from politics.
Under the new code, ministers cannot directly own shares and are banned from taking up jobs that relate to any area for which they formerly had responsibility within 18 months of retirement from politics.
The code will also make it mandatory for political lobbyists to register in order to have access to Government ministers and senior officials.
“It will be clear cut from that list which lobbyists are working with the Federal Government and on behalf of which company,” Rudd says.
The code also bans ministers’ family members from holding shares in areas for which the ministers are responsible – a rule that would have stood in the way of Rudd taking the role of Prime Minister, given his overarching responsibility for all areas of government, while his wife Therese Rein retained her ownership of the Australian operations of job placement firm Ingeus.
In a busy first cabinet meeting in Rudd’s home city of Brisbane, Labor agreed on laws to strengthen the independence of the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Under the new laws, the RBA governor and deputy governor will become statutory officers that can only be fired by both houses of Parliament sitting together, and members of the RBA board will have to be selected by the Government from a list maintained by Treasury and the RBA, limiting the scope for political appointments.