Public Sector Conduct

The following statement contains information regarding public sector conduct, working outside the service and the unauthorised disclosure of information.

Public Sector Conduct

Section 9 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994

(1) A public servant must—

  • (a) take all reasonable steps to avoid a conflict of interest; and
  • (b) declare or manage a conflict of interest that cannot reasonably be avoided; and
  • (c) when acting in connection with the public servant’s job—
    • (i) comply with laws applying in the Territory; and
    • (ii) comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by a person with the authority to give the direction; and
    • (iii) if dealing with a member of the public—make all reasonable efforts to help the person to understand the person’s entitlements, and any requirement the person is obliged to meet, under a territory law; and
    • (iv) treat all people with courtesy and sensitivity to their rights and aspirations; and
  • (d) do the public servant’s job with reasonable care and diligence, impartiality and honesty.

(2) A public servant must not—

  • (a) behave in a way that—
    • (i) is inconsistent with the public sector values; or
    • (ii) undermines the integrity and reputation of the service; or
  • (b) take improper advantage of the public servant’s job or information gained through the public servant’s job; or
  • (c) improperly use a Territory resource, including information, accessed through the public servant’s job; or
  • (d) without lawful authority—
    • (i) disclose confidential information gained through the public servant’s job; or
    • Note The Crimes Act 1900, s 153 (1) makes it an offence for a public servant to disclose information that it is the public servant’s duty not to disclose.
    • (ii) make a comment that reasonably appears to be an official comment; or
  • (e) when acting in connection with the public servant’s job — bully, harass or intimidate anyone; or
  • (f) when doing the public servant’s job — apply improper influence, favouritism or patronage.

(3) For a misconduct procedure, failing to act in a way that is consistent with subsection (1) or (2) may be misconduct.

Note A misconduct procedure means a procedure set out in an industrial instrument or prescribed by regulation (see dict, def misconduct procedure).

(4) A public servant (a discloser) must tell the following person about any maladministration or corrupt or fraudulent conduct by a public servant or a public sector member of which the discloser becomes aware:

  • (a) the head of service;
  • (b) if the alleged maladministration or corrupt or fraudulent conduct is by the head of service—
    • (i) the director-general of the administrative unit in which the public servant is employed; or
    • (ii) if the head of service is the director-general of the administrative unit in which the public servant is employed—another director-general.

(5) This section does not—

  • (a) affect the operation of any other Act; or
  • (b) create or affect any other legal right.

Work Outside the Service

Section 244 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994.

(1) A public servant must have the approval of the head of service for any of the following activities, other than in the exercise of the public servant’s functions:

  • (a) employment;
  • (b) business activities;
  • (c) membership of a board or committee.

(2) However, a public servant does not need approval to be a member or shareholder of, or hold an unpaid position in, an incorporated company, a political party or a body registered under a law of the Territory, a State or the Commonwealth. Note State includes the Northern Territory (see Legislation Act, dict, pt 1).

Unauthorised Disclosure of Information

Unauthorised disclosure, or leaking, of official information is a breach of the Code of Ethics (Section 9 of the Act) and potentially of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT).

Section 153(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), states:'(1)  A person who, being an officer of the Territory, publishes or communicates except to some person to whom he or she is authorised to publish or communicate it, any fact or document which comes to his or her knowledge, or into his or her possession, by virtue of him or her being an officer of the Territory and which it is his or her duty not to disclose, is guilty of an offence punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 2 years.'