Independent Role Established To Consider MPs’ Conduct
A Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards will be appointed to consider the conduct of MPs.
On Wednesday 29 June, the Parliamentary Service Commission adopted the recommendation to establish the independent role, following consultation with parliamentary staff and the public.
The Commissioner will receive, investigate, and resolve complaints about conduct of Members’ of Parliament which do not align with the Behavioural Statements for the Parliamentary Workplace.
“This role has been established as part of our commitment to improving the culture of Parliament,” Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt Hon Trevor Mallard said.
“The nature of Parliament means there are power imbalances here, and we must keep them in check. Establishing this role guarantees another channel through which staff can confidentially raise concerns about members’ conduct.”
The Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards will be appointed for a five-year term by the Speaker, on the recommendation of the Parliamentary Service Commission, and in consultation with party leaders.
“Anyone who works in the parliamentary workplace will be able to escalate a confidential complaint to the Commissioner, who will be independent from all parties, Government, Parliament and agencies. The Commissioner will offer services to facilitate resolution of the complaint or conduct an inquiry into it,” the Speaker said.
“Accountability is a crucial part of this process, so while all complaints will be confidential and complainants can remain anonymous, the Commissioner will produce a report on the number of complaints received and their outcomes every year, including where there are systemic issues”.
This is the latest action to be implemented as part of the Parliamentary Sector’s commitment to improving the culture of Parliament following the 2019 Independent External Review into Bullying and Harassment in the New Zealand Parliamentary Workplace.
“This is just one of the many steps Parliament has taken to ensure a healthy workplace culture, and we will continue working to ensure that everyone feels safe and secure at work,” Mr Mallard said.
“It takes a united effort to ensure a safe workplace culture, and I would like to thank the Culture Subcommittee of the Parliamentary Service Commission for their hard work on this - Jacqui Dean (Chair, National), Angie Warren-Clarke (Labour), Jan Logie (Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand), and Karen Chhour (ACT). I would also like to thank the Clerk of the House David Wilson and Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero.”
Since the 2019 review, the parliamentary sector has introduced a range of measures to ensure a healthy workplace culture. These include the introduction of the parliamentary code of conduct, Bullying and Harassment awareness training, and establishing a Haumaru Integrity Line.