Who can request advice?
The Integrity Commissioner may give advice only if it concerns a designated person. All designated persons can seek advice with regard to their own issues involving ethics or integrity.
The Integrity Act 2009 defines the following persons as a designated person:
- a member of the Legislative Assembly;
- a statutory office holder;
- a chief executive of a government department or a public service office;
- a senior executive officer or senior officer;
- a chief executive of, or a senior officer equivalent employed in a government entity who is nominated by the Minister responsible for administering the entity;
- a ministerial staffmember who gives, or a person engaged to give, advice to a Minister;
- an Assistant Minister staff member who gives, or a person engaged to give, advice to an Assistant Minister;
- a person, or a class of person nominated by a Minister or Assistant Minister.
When advice is sought by a senior executive, senior officer or senior officer equivalent within a department, public service office or government entity, the request must be accompanied by a signed authority to seek the advice from the chief executive officer of the department, public service office or government entity in which the person is employed.
Some people can ask for advice about other people:
- The Premier may seek advice about any designated person, other than a non-Government MP.
- a Minister, Assistant Minister and chief executive officer (CEO) may seek advice about a designated person under their administration.
- The Leader of the Opposition may seek advice about a non-government MP who is a member of the Leader’s political party.
The Integrity Commissioner cannot provide advice to or about a junior staff member of a government department, unless that junior member of staff has been nominated by a Minister or Assistant Minister as a designated person.
A person who was, but is no longer, a designated person cannot seek advice, nor can anyone else seek advice about a former designated person.
How to make a request and how it will be handled
All requests must be in writing and should contain sufficient information to allow the Integrity Commissioner to evaluate the issues concerned. If necessary, the Integrity Commissioner can ask for further information. Requests should be sent by post or email marked private and confidential.
Who will see the Integrity Commissioner’s advice?
The process is confidential. It is an offence for anyone other than the designated person who requested the advice to disclose the document. Furthermore, all material related to a request for advice is exempt from disclosure under schedule 1, section 6 of the Right to Information Act 2009. Advice sought about another person cannot be released unless compelled by another Act.
Certain disclosures are authorised, and in some cases required, under the Integrity Act 2009. These are set out in chapter 3, part 4 of that Act.
What happens after a designated person receives advice?
If the Integrity Commissioner advises that a designated person has an actual, or perceived, and significant conflict of interest, the designated person should take steps to resolve that conflict.
If the designated person fails to resolve an actual, or perceived, and significant ethics or integrity issues within five days of receiving advice from the Integrity Commissioner, the Integrity Commissioner must give the Premier or other relevant person a copy of the advice documents.
If the designated person follows the Integrity Commissioner’s advice to resolve a conflict of interest issue, the designated person will not be liable in a civil proceeding or under an administrative process for any actions the designated officer takes in accordance with that advice.