MPs’ drinking in the spotlight

A parliamentary inquiry will consider if NSW MPs should be banned from drinking alcohol at work following accusations Finance Minister Greg Pearce was so drunk during a late-night sitting he was unable to vote.

The NSW upper house has passed a motion asking the procedures committee to inquire into and report on alcohol consumption by MPs during parliamentary sitting hours.

The inquiry, which has been asked to report by September 27, will look at whether a code of conduct is needed and if the ”pairing” system is being abused to excuse drunk MPs.

The system allows parties to agree that one of their own MPs will not participate in a vote when an MP on the other side has a valid need to be excused from Parliament.

Mr Pearce has taken a month off work on sick leave after being accused of being drunk in Parliament three weeks ago.

He has admitted being exhausted and stressed on the night and this was ”compounded” by the effects of alcohol.

A motion put by the Greens MP John Kaye and passed by the upper house on Wednesday “confirms that it is inappropriate for a member to attend the house while under the influence of alcohol”.

It calls on the procedures committee to inquire into drinking by MPs during sitting hours and “give consideration to a total ban on alcohol consumption by members on sitting days before the last bell and appropriate ways to enforce it”.

Dr Kaye said the community expects high standards from politicians.

“Most decision-critical workplaces impose strict regulations on the consumption of alcohol during working hours,” he said.

“This inquiry will give the NSW upper house the opportunity to show that it is capable of creating rules to stop its own members voting under the influence.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.