Accountability Round Table has critiqued the amendments to the IBAC legislation proposed for May 2016.
“Before the 2014 election, the then Labor opposition indicated that, if elected, it would amend the IBAC Act by the inclusion of the offence of misconduct in public office in the definition of “corrupt conduct” and that it would reduce the thresholds in the legislation that prevented IBAC from commencing investigations. The changes mentioned above in the amending Bill achieve these results, and clearly show that the Government has met its pre-election commitments. The Bill, if passed, will therefore be a good start in providing Victoria with a more effective anti-corruption commission. But the Bill is only a good start. Substantial further improvement is necessary before Victoria will have an effective integrity and accountability system – which the opening words and clause 1 of the amending Bill show is the Government’s stated intention. The IBAC Act, as amended by the Bill, will still fall far short of what is required to address the risks of corruption.
Even after the amending Bill is enacted, the Victorian IBAC will be in a much weaker position than ICAC.”
Prior to this proposed amendment, the IBAC legislation under the former government’s design, was effectively unable to investigate misconduct in public office, ie any misconduct of Parliamentarians and public servants. Moreover the bar for investigation was so high that it led to IBAC‘s officers being required to identify the indictable offence or offences involved before any investigation could commence. This was almost circular in demanding an investigation before an investigation can proceed.
ART argues for strengthening this legislation so that it can effectively pursue misconduct and corrupt behaviour with provisions that are more watertight than the proposed amendments.
ART has sent the letter and submission below to Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings.
The submission includes careful argument by former supreme court Judge, Stephen Charles and others specifying the exact weaknesses in the current IBAC amendment proposals, and suggests remedies.
The Hon. Gavin Jennings MLC
Special Minister of State
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place
Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment (A Stronger System) Bill 2015
ART has given further careful consideration to the proposals for change contained in the above Bill and the issues it seeks to address.
The result is the enclosed Submission which updates our concerns, proposals and our analysis. We will be forwarding it to all members of the Victorian Parliament in due course (together with the Submission previously submitted to you “Does Victoria have a corruption Problem” and a list of the amendments to the legislation we would propose).
If there is anything that needs clarification, and any way we can assist further, we would greatly appreciate that opportunity.
We look forward to opportunities for further discussion on these and other government integrity system issues.
Hon. Tim Smith QC
Chair, Accountability Round Table