Skip navigation

Ending Jobs for Mates Bill 2023

More than a decade of cronyism and party-political appointments to important public positions have eroded trust and integrity in our democracy. 

Australians deserve to be able to trust the institutions that underpin our democracy, so it is crucial that the appointment process for important public positions is not only based on expertise, but is also transparent and free from undue political interference. My Transparent and Quality Public Appointments Bill 2023 (‘Ending Jobs for Mates Bill’) sets out a process to achieve just that. 

I am proud to have tabled my Bill in Parliament on Monday 6 March, which was seconded by the Federal Member for Indi, Independent Dr Helen Haines MP.

How my Bill will work:

• If legislated, the Bill would create a Public Appointments Commissioner (PAC) and departmental Independent Selection Panels (ISP) overseen by a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Appointments (PJCA).

• Up to half the members of the PJCA may be drawn from the government, but the Chair (who has a casting vote) must not – ensuring its independence from the Government of the day.

• The Bill would apply to all major Commonwealth public appointments, including roles such as the National Anti-Corruption Commissioner, the Information Commissioner and Members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

• The PAC and departmental ISPs would be responsible for implementing a transparent and independent recruitment process, including:

o publicly advertising the criteria for the role (as determined by the Minister);
o assessing all applicants against the selection criteria, as well as on the basis of quality, experience, and integrity, and with a view to promoting diversity.

• At the end of the recruitment process, the PAC and departmental ISPs would provide Ministers with a shortlist of at least three candidates to choose from, and a written statement certifying their appropriateness for the role. That statement must be tabled in Parliament once the appointment is made.

• Importantly, the Minister would be unable to select someone who is not on that shortlist or add candidates to the list.

Recent examples of political appointments that Dr Scamps MP’s Bill seeks to address:

• Research from The Grattan Institute found nearly 1 in 10 of all Federal Government appointees have a “direct political connection” while this figure rises to 21% of among those positions that are well paid, prestigious, and/or powerful.

• The history of party-political appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Analysis by The Australia Institute found up to 40% of appointments to the AAT under the Morrison Government were ‘jobs for mates’ style political appointments.

• The Morrison Government’s appointment of a former fossil fuel executive as chairman of the Climate Change Authority.

• The Morrison Government’s appointment of fossil fuel executives to the national COVID Recovery Commission at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – at a time when the Government was trying to justify its so-called “gas-led recovery”.

• The appointment by the then Infrastructure Minister Barnaby Joyce of a former local mayor, who was also a self-described supporter of Joyce, to head up Infrastructure Australia following a recruitment process that was defined by “an informal chat”.