Sunday, August 01, 2010

Party Betting Ethics

Today's news reports indicate that members of both Coalition Parties (Liberal Party and National Party) and the Labor Party have been betting on the upcoming federal election. Reports indicate senior members of the ALP are betting that the Liberals will win particular seats, and will win government. The stories also indicate Coalition party politicians betting that Labor will win the election.

At the time of writing, neither Party seems to have a publicly-available Code of Conduct for its members. I have contacted both Labor and Liberal Parties for a copy of their Code of Conduct. If gambling on elections, and particularly against the party, is not excluded, I believe it should be.

A Code of Conduct specifies how people within an organization are to behave, and how that behaviour serves the interests of the organization and the people it serves. If followed, it also provides a level of protection from complaints. Codes of Practice are common, and I would be surprised if the parties do not have one.

Reasonable people would agree that betting against your own team (or party) is not in the best interests of that team. It also creates a conflict of interest, since to lose, in this case the election, would mean financial gain for the member who bet against his/her party. It would also put members in the position of campaigning for their party, but desperately hoping they lose.

While I await a response from the parties, voters would be justified in increasing their level of cynicism about the major parties if they do nothing about this issue.

Some politicians & party members will still be thinking 'ethics, schmethics - who cares!' The answer, of course, is that we voters do!