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Public Sector Ethics Act

The Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (PSEA) outlines the ethical obligations of employees within the Queensland public service.

The PSEA requires public service agencies and public sector entities to develop and implement a code of conduct. This must include standards of conduct based on the 4 ethics principles and values:

  • integrity and impartiality
  • promoting the public good
  • commitment to the system of government
  • accountability and transparency.

See the Code of Conduct for the Queensland public service.

Who the Act applies to

The PSEA applies to:

  • public service agencies
  • public sector entities

The PSEA does not apply to:

  • a government-owned corporation
  • a corporation owned by a local government, or a subsidiary of a corporation owned by a local government
  • entities under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 – a parents and citizens association, a non-State school, an advisory committee and an international educational institution.

Public service agencies

These are defined as:

  • departments
  • public service offices
  • TAFE Queensland
  • administrative offices of a court or tribunal
  • entities prescribed under a regulation that are not a public service agency.

All public service agencies:

  • are covered by the Code of Conduct for the Queensland public service which applies to all public officials of the agency as well as contractors and their employees, volunteers, students on work experience with the entity.  
  • may have their own policies and procedures that provide further information about expectations of employee conduct.
  • have the capacity under the PSEA to develop Standards of Practice which identify additional expectations of standards of conduct for particular employees due to the nature of the role they perform or because of critical business requirements that impact on employee conduct.

Public sector entities

These are defined as:

  • parliamentary service
  • local government
  • university
  • entity established under an Act or under a State or local government authorisation for a public, State or local government purpose
  • entity prescribed under a regulation.

Each public sector entity’s code of conduct:

  • is specific to their entity
  • applies to all public officials of the entity and can apply to others such as contractors and their employees, volunteers, students on work experience with the entity.
  • must be approved by the relevant authority responsible for the entity as prescribed in the PSEA (e.g. Chief Executive of the Local Government Council or for a University, the University Council).

A public sector entity may seek to have the Code of Conduct for the Queensland public service applied to them, as a prescribed agency under a regulation.