Ministers' Office Handbook
Staff have an important role in providing advice and assistance to Office Holders.
This Code of Conduct sets out the standards that Office Holder staff are expected to meet in the performance of their duties.
Applicability of the Code
This Code of Conduct applies to:
• staff employed by Ministers under Part 2 of the MOPS Act;
• government sector employees seconded to work in the office of an Office Holder (this does not include Department Liaison Officers, who remain employed by their agency and subject to their agency’s Code of Conduct);
• consultants engaged by Ministers to provide services in connection with their official duties; and
• staff employed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly under Part 2 of the MOPS Act.
References in this Code to the Office Holder include references to a person who has been delegated the Office Holder’s employment functions under the MOPS Act.
Obligations of Office Holder Staff
Office Holder staff must meet the following standards in the course of discharging the duties of their employment:
All office holder staff
- Behave honestly and with integrity.
- Act with care and diligence.
- Treat with respect and courtesy all those with whom they have contact.
- Comply with any authorised and reasonable direction received in the course of their employment.
- Take reasonable steps to avoid, and in all cases disclose, any actual or potential conflicts of interests (real or apparent), noting that staff are required to provide their Office Holder with a statement of private interests and update accordingly.
- Make themselves aware of the Ethical Framework for the Government Sector (contained in Part 2 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013) and relevant codes of conduct which bind government sector employees.
- Not knowingly encourage or induce a public official to breach the law, Parliamentary obligations or duties under an applicable code of conduct.
- Not make improper use of their position or access to information to gain or seek to gain a benefit or advantage for themselves or any other person.
- Not access information unless it is immediately relevant to the work they are performing and ensure that information is not accessed by or disclosed to unauthorised persons.
- Have no involvement in outside employment or in the management or work of any business, and not hold a position as a director or member of the governing body of any company or other entity, without the agreement of their Office Holder.
- Use State resources for the effective conduct of public business in a proper manner. State resources are not to be subject to wasteful or extravagant use, and due economy is to be observed at all times. Staff must be scrupulous in ensuring the legitimacy and accuracy of any claim for entitlements.
- Comply with the Gifts, Hospitality and Benefits Policy.
- Familiarise themselves with this Code of Conduct both upon the commencement of their employment and on an ongoing basis whenever the Code may be amended.
Government office holder staff only
- Divest themselves, or relinquish control, of interests in any private company or business and/or direct interest in any public company involved in the area of their Officer Holder’s portfolio responsibilities. (Relinquishing control may include actions such as ceasing trading for the period of employment, placing interests under ‘blind’ management, and ongoing disclosure statements).
- When travelling overseas on official business, behave in a manner consistent with this Code and other relevant guidelines, to the extent they apply to officials on duty overseas.
- Use their best endeavours to facilitate direct and effective communication between their agencies and their Office Holder.
- Acknowledge that staff do not have the power to direct public servants in their own right and that public servants are not subject to their direction.
- Recognise that executive decisions are the preserve of Ministers or lawfully authorised government officials, and not staff acting in their own right.
- Comply with all applicable laws, applicable codes of conduct and Premier’s Memoranda (including, without limitation, the NSW Lobbyists Code of Conduct, record keeping requirements under the State Records Act 1998 and responsibilities under work health and safety legislation).
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality about their dealings with their Minister, other Ministers, other Ministers’ staff, public servants and Parliamentary employees (including after the cessation of employment).
- Other than in the course of their professional duties, not post personal online commentary or other material or publish books or articles expressing personal views which relate to either their Minister’s portfolio area or the general work of the NSW Government, unless otherwise approved by the employer.
Implementation of Code
Each Office Holder’s Chief of Staff is responsible for the day to day oversight of the obligations imposed by the Code within his or her office.
The MOPS Act provides that DPC can provide administrative and other support services to Office Holders and their staff.
Any sanctions relating to this Code will be determined by the relevant Office Holder. The Office Holder should consult with the Premier’s office.
Sanctions for breach of this Code may include (without limitation and in no order of precedence) counselling, cautions or warnings, suspension (with or without pay) or dismissal.
As a breach of this Code may also constitute a disciplinary offence for the purposes of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988, a breach of the Code may ground a finding of corrupt conduct under that Act.