Senator Toni Moore has declared she cannot support the Integrity in Public Life Bill if “some aspects” of the legislation are not clarified.
The independent senator claimed there were “ambiguities” in the legislation which was brought to the Upper House today.
Senator Moore said: “There are certain aspects of the Bill before us that make it difficult for me to offer full support to the Bill. I support the principle only.”
While declaring that integrity is a must, the senator said she would not be voting for the bill in its current state.
She told senators:I believe we need integrity in public life. I agree with integrity is one of those concepts that is hard to define in legislation.
“Integrity, I believe, is a must. I believe the majority of the Bill can be supported but for my one part, if the ambiguity and lack of clarity around the issues that I raise when it comes time for voting are still there I will not be in a position to give it my support.”
The senator then pointed out a few of the issues she has with the bill, one of which is the lack of protection for a whistleblower and the “broad powers” of the proposed integrity commission.
Senator Moore said: “This Integrity in Public Life Bill offers the commission very broad powers, which is a good thing.
“Because the commission has such broad powers that if officers are not selected very carefully then what is intended by the Bill and the value that can be obtained can be significantly compromised.
“This particular piece of legislation offers no protection for a whistle-blower. In Jamaica, for instance, the Integrity Commission Act 2017 provides that: any information or document disclosed by the person or body shall not be used in any criminal proceedings against such person or body except for criminal proceedings relating to the provision of false and misleading information.
“A bill such as this one that is so deliberate, so intent and so intrusive to address a particular concern should offer some measure of protection to the people that will be involved in bringing information that may be useful to ensuring that integrity is maintained. This piece of legislation does not offer such protection.”
Another bone of contention for the trade unionist is the registrable interest, which is a register stating all of a public figure’s financial information and other assets.
Senator Moore said: “Section 18 outlines a number of interests that must be filed – particulars of directorships held in any kind company or body particulars of any contract made with the Government or state-owned enterprises.
“I recognise that as being important. Why is the information being placed for ‘public interest’ as stated in the bill. No one can then say that members of the commission breach confidentiality cause any member of the public can examine it.”
She called the legislation “instrusive”, suggesting that it has gone a bit too far.
“It borders on an invasion of privacy that can be intrusive. I think that we may have gone a bit too far. When the registrable interest is made available to the public how does that square with the data protection legislation that we passed previously?,” the senator queried.
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