Ministers hold positions of great trust given to them by the people and Parliament of South Australia. They have responsibility for decisions that can have a significant impact on individuals and groups in South Australia, and for this reason Cabinet has approved a code of conduct to provide guidance on how ministers should act and arrange their affairs to uphold the highest standards and avoid conflicts of interest.
Register of Members' Interest
A conflict of interest may exist when a minister is influenced or appears to be influenced by private interests. Private interests include not only a minister’s financial or other interests but the financial or other interests of the minister’s spouse, domestic partner or children. There are many circumstances in the context of the minister’s position in which conflicts of interest may arise.
For example, a conflict may arise where a minister:
- has a significant financial interest in a company with whom the government is contracting;
- has a personal interest in the outcome of a process; or
- receives a right or commission in return for the provision of a benefit.
Ministers must, within 14 days of taking up office, notify Cabinet Office of all private interests disclosed to Parliament pursuant to the Member of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1983. This includes any private interests of their spouse, domestic partner, children or business associates. These details will be recorded in the register of interests maintained by Cabinet Office. Ministers must provide a yearly update of all private interests to Parliament and Cabinet Office each August. The Register is available for scrutiny by the Auditor-General if requested.
Advising the Premier and Cabinet
Ministers are under an obligation to advise the Premier (or in the case of the Premier, Cabinet) in writing as soon as possible after becoming aware of any conflict of interest between their public duty and private interests. This obligation is additional to a minister’s obligations to notify Cabinet Office of their private interests under the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1983.
The advice should contain detail of the conflict of interest to enable the Premier to consider the most appropriate course of action to be taken in the circumstances. The advice will also be recorded on the register of interests.