Misbehaving MPs could have pay docked under bold new code being considered

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Badly behaving MPs could have their pay docked by up to 5 per cent should a powerful new body be created as recommended by a landmark report more than two years ago.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher confirmed the leaked document that outlined the sanctions MPs, senators and their staff could face if they were found to breach parliamentary standards had been in the works for some time.

“This body will be set up and the whole purpose is to look at complaints, and where complaints are substantiated, to implement sanctions against whoever that may be,” she told ABC News on Tuesday.

A key recommendation from former sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Set the Standard report is the creation of an independent body to respond to complaints of sexual assault, violence, harassment, bullying and discrimination.

The commission would have the power to impose training on an MP, a fine of up to 5 per cent of their annual salary, and recommend the House discharge the misbehaving member from a committee or be suspended from the parliament.

Meanwhile, staff could be slapped with a 2 per cent fine, reassignment of duties, training, a behaviour agreement or be sacked.

But the creation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission has been much delayed and is not expected to begin operation until October.

Senator Gallagher said the government had been “upfront” about the delays they’d faced in establishing the IPSC.

“There was a lot of work that went into establishing the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service and that was enshrined in legislation and started operating 1 October last year,” she said.

“The minute that was established, we started work on the IPSC … and we flagged at the time that it would probably take until around 1 October 2024 to get up and running.

“We’re trying to get agreement across the parliament. We’re working really well with the opposition and with the crossbench on this, and I’m very hopeful that we will have probably a draft that we would release publicly pretty soon.”

The leaked document was drafted by a cross-party working group tasked with designing the new system, and would apply to anyone working in a parliamentary workplace – including journalists and lobbyists.

But sanctions for those working at private companies are limited to a restriction of removal of access to Parliament House and passing on any findings to their employers.

“There is no ability to require a private employer to impose a sanction on their employee,” it said.