Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin.
Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin. Jacklyn Wagner

Saffin supports ethics adviser call

LABOR backbencher Janelle Saffin says an ethics adviser would be a useful addition to the Federal Parliament.

The Member for Page made the suggestion while speaking during debate on independent MP Rob Oakeshott's motion to create a code of conduct for federal parliamentarians.

She supports Mr Oakeshott's motion, which calls for the Parliament to endorse the draft code of conduct for MPs.

But she would also like to see an ethics adviser appointed, just as the New South Wales Parliament did in 1998.

Ms Saffin, who served in the NSW upper house for eight years from 1995, said the adviser had played a pivotal role in helping politicians.

"In the NSW Parliament there was a lot of work done before we adopted certain codes and had an ethics committee," Ms Saffin told the Federation Chamber this week.

"We had an ethics adviser ... (who) I found to be very useful because it is sometimes difficult when you need guidance.

"Who do you go to in this place (the federal Parliament)?

"I know that the clerks are always very helpful and totally useful, as are the speakers and chairs, but having an ethics adviser who stays a little bit away was extremely useful in this regard."

In NSW the adviser helps MPs on request with ethical issues arising from the use of entitlements and potential conflicts of interest.

"The adviser bases the advice given on the determinations of the Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal and the provisions of the Code of Conduct adopted by the Parliament. The adviser does not provide legal advice and gives an opinion rather than a ruling. It is up to members how and whether or not they adopt the advice given," the NSW parliamentary website reads.

Ms Saffin was among four MPs to speak on Mr Oakeshott's code of conduct motion this week.