Speaker and former Crossbench colleague receive integrity awards

Speaker and former Crossbench colleague receive integrity awards

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has congratulated the Speaker of the House, Tony Smith, and former Independent MP Cathy McGowan on receiving Parliamentary Integrity Awards this week.

Photo: Rebekha with former Independent MP Cathy McGowan, who received a Parliamentary Integrity Award, and the Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines.

Rebekha nominated both Mr Smith, the Member for Casey, for the Accountability Round Table (ART) John Button Award and Ms McGowan, the former Member for Indi, for the ART Alan Missen Award.

“I was honoured to nominate both colleagues for these awards because they are true examples of public leaders who display honesty and integrity,” Rebekha said.

“The Speaker lived up to his pledge to be an open and impartial manager of the business of the House which was a challenge during the 45th Parliament.

“He went to great lengths during a tumultuous parliament to ensure that all parliamentarians were provided with the same opportunity to be heard irrespective of party allegiance and to be treated equally under the Standing Orders of the House.

“I nominated Cathy for her tireless dedication in advancing the interests of ordinary Australians in a polite, civil and honest manner.

“The former Member of Indi was a mentor of mine when I first entered parliament and she has become a great friend.

“I have always looked to her as an example of how to work with the Government, the Opposition, the Crossbench and the wider community to further issues of public importance, including the introduction of legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption.”

Cathy served two terms as an Independent Member in the Federal Parliament.

In accepting this award, Cathy called on the Government to re-assess its position on asylum seekers held in indefinite detention in the Pacific.

“The Government should accept the offer from New Zealand and ensure those asylum seekers unable to go to the US are settled in New Zealand,” Cathy said today.

In September, Ms McGowan visited Papua New Guinea and heard appeals from communities and faith groups, including the Catholic Church, for Australia to end what locals describe as a “humanitarian crisis”.

Ms McGowan said there are particular concerns for those 53 asylum seekers who remain detained and isolated in the Bomana facility under heavy security.

"Integrity is a virtue, that all in public office should aspire to,” Ms McGowan said.

“People of integrity know when justice, compassion and mercy are of greater service to the nation than force, fear and punishment.

“I say to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ‘it is time now to act with justice, compassion and mercy’.”

Two Integrity Awards are presented following the end of each Parliamentary term by the ART.

The ART is made up of eminent public leaders, including retired High Court Judge Ken Hayne. It is set up to ensure integrity in the practices and processes of government and in the conduct of parliamentary and public officials.

Photo: Fiona McLeod SC Chair of Accountability Round Table, left, with Cathy McGowan AO, Speaker of the House Tony Smith and ART member retired High Court Judge Ken Hayne.