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Independent MP pushes for laws to stamp out ‘jobs for mates’ among politicians

One of the new teal independent MPs will push for laws to stamp out Australia’s “jobs for mates” culture among politicians.

Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps intends to introduce a private member’s Bill to federal parliament to improve transparency around government-appointed jobs.

Her proposal comes as new analysis exposes the growing problem of political stacking to federal and state government boards, tribunals and agencies.

The report from think tank the Grattan Institute found that many of these positions were filled by people who had worked in politics – almost always for the party that was in government when they got the job.

“When mateship prevails over merit, we all suffer,” said Grattan Institute chief executive Danielle Wood, the report’s lead author.

The analysis finds that while 7 per cent of federal government appointees have a political connection, that rises to 21 per cent among positions that are highly paid, powerful and prestigious.

In addition to this, more than one in five members of federal government business boards have a political connection.

This includes the boards of companies such as Australia Post, which employs thousands of people and manages billions of dollars in income.

Dr Scamps says her “public appointments framework” would enshrine an independent and merit-based process to select candidates for government boards, committees and departmental appointments.

It would legislate the requirement for a publicly advertised and transparent selection criteria for every role.

Independent panels “free from government interference” would then vet and shortlist the best candidates, with the relevant minister selecting the best candidate from this list.

Camera IconFormer NSW deputy premier John Barilaro is fending of a storm of controversy over his appointment to a plum government posting overseas. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Scamps and her team are drafting the legislation with a plan to introduce it to parliament later this year.

“It is crucial that the political appointment process is free from political bias,” she said.

“We need to depoliticise political appointments to help restore trust in our public institutions and to ensure we do not have another Barilaro-type scandal at a federal level,” she said.

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro recently sparked a storm of controversy after it was announced he had been given a plum $500,000-a -ear trade posting to represent the state government in New York.

Evidence heard in a parliamentary inquiry into his appointment will be referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

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