Liberals move to strengthen funding and independence of the IBAC and Ombudsman

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The Victorian Liberals and Nationals have today announced a package to strengthen Victoria’s independent agencies against corruption and maladministration.

Labor has starved the IBAC and Ombudsman of funding throughout its period in government and sought to intimidate the agencies from comprehensively scrutinising the failings of the Andrews Labor government.

The first step of the Liberals and Nationals plan is to restore proper funding to the IBAC and the Ombudsman, followed by a comprehensive funding increase that will put these two critical agencies on a more secure footing.

The Liberals and Nationals will also reform the Integrity and Accountability Parliamentary Committee as an ‘Officers of Parliament Committee’ modelled on the New Zealand Committee. The new Committee, of the same name, will provide advice to parliament on the annual budgets of the independent integrity agencies.

This will deliver a more secure and independent funding arrangement and will remove control of its budgets from the executive government.

Furthermore, an elected Mathew Guy Liberals and Nationals Government will:

  • Immediately inject secure ongoing funding to IBAC – an additional $10 million per year.
  • Restore IBAC’s powers to conduct public hearings.
  • Immediately inject ongoing funding to the Victorian Ombudsman – $2 million per year – to reverse Labor’s cuts as part of a $16 million increase over 5 years.
  • Within 12 months of being elected to government, amend the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003 to ensure that the Joint Integrity and Oversight Committee has a budgetary oversight function and the power to make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.
  • Release Labor’s secret review of funding to independent agencies.

Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy, said if elected to government he would move immediately to restore IBAC’s powers to conduct public hearings.

“One of the first things we will do is reverse the Andrews Labor government’s flawed legislative amendments which made it harder to hold public hearings,” Mr Guy said.

“Labor has been in power for 19 of the last 23 years and in that time, the Premier has grown increasingly arrogant and out of touch – believing he is above the law and above scrutiny.”

Not only did Daniel Andrews thumb his nose at the Coate Inquiry, but he also refused to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman’s investigation into the ‘Red Shirts’ rorts – Labor’s theft of $388,000 of public money.

The Premier’s blatant denial of Freedom of Information requests, as well as the refusal to answer questions put to him in parliament or at press conferences points to the need for greater scrutiny.

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, David Davis, said the Andrews government have sought to nobble the independent oversight agencies in a clear attempt to frustrate them and avoid investigation.

“These agencies should be strengthened, supported and resourced to prevent corruption in public office,” Mr Davis said.

“The Andrews government believes its entitled to evade scrutiny by refusing to answer questions from those whose job it is to keep it in check.”

“A Matthew Guy Liberals and Nationals government will clean up the corruption in Victoria.”

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