The Victorian Legislative Council has today voted to have the Parliament’s Integrity and Oversight Committee inquire into, consider and report, by Thursday 30 November 2023, on the matters raised in the amendments circulated by Greens Party member, Katherine Copsey, to the Opposition’sIndependent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Amendment (Restoration of Examination Powers) Bill 2022, and as part of their investigation the Committee must —
(1) examine arguments for and against expanding the capacity of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) to hold public hearings and, in particular, whether the “exceptional circumstance” provision under section 117 of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011excessively restricts the capacity of IBAC to hold public hearings;
(2) consider whether other jurisdictions have reached a more appropriate balance in respect of public hearings; and
(3) report on recommendations for the best practice legislative framework for the conduct of public hearings.
Shadow Special Minister of State, David Davis, welcomed the Legislative Council’s decision, saying the Andrews Labor government’s 2019 changes to the IBAC Act have all but abolished public IBAC hearings.
“It is clear the Legislative Council wants detailed and considered expert advice about how to implement the best practice legislative framework for the conduct of IBAC public hearings, given the broadly acknowledged unworkability of the current IBAC legislation.
“It is also clear that Daniel Andrews is an IBAC ‘frequent flyer’, appearing before IBAC in private on up to four occasions, but not once in public.”
“In NSW, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) regularly publicly examines NSW Premiers, something the Victorian IBAC has been unable to do due to the Andrews Labor government’s legislation changes in 2019.”
“IBAC needs to be able to hold more of its hearings in public if it is to fulfill its role of upholding integrity and educating Victorians about potential corruption in their elected officials.”
The vote carried 24 to 15, with only Labor voting against the referral.