I rise to speak on the opposition’s motion before the house today that essentially centres around the chair of the Integrity and Oversight intervening to block testimony to the IOC from certain heads of integrity agencies.
The motion goes on to state that:
(c) the Andrews Labor government has failed to adequately fund IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman …
and that it:
(2) calls on the government to provide an immediate injection of funds for IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman to ensure a lack of funding does not prevent the completion of … inquiries …
As a member of the IOC, can I begin by saying that the members of the IOC from both sides of the chamber and both houses, and importantly the office of the secretariat, do an incredible job under intense scrutiny and often within incredibly tight time frames. I have seen this firsthand, and with the team effort in collaboration the IOC has maintained a high level of effectiveness and ethics. In relation to the first point within the motion—that the chair of the IOC shut down the IBAC Commissioner—this followed questions posed by opposition members that may have resulted in answers provided by the IBAC Commissioner that may have been in breach of the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003, specifically section 7. Within this section there was a significant risk of a breach of the provision because the questioning of the IBAC Commissioner in a public hearing was about specific matters, including possibly naming witnesses and complainants that are currently under the investigation of IBAC or another legal process. Such questioning and discussions involve a significant risk of breaching section 7 of the Parliamentary Committees Act by potentially investigating a matter currently being investigated by IBAC; reviewing findings, recommendations, determinations or other decisions regarding a particular IBAC investigation; disclosing or facilitating the disclosure of any information which may prejudice a criminal investigation, an IBAC investigation or a criminal or any other criminal proceeding; and breaching a secrecy or confidentiality provision in any act. During the public hearing it became apparent that the risk of a breach was heightened, as the public hearings were broadcast live and being recorded by Hansard. It is for those reasons that we do not support this portion of the opposition’s motion. In terms of the funding for the integrity agencies, in February 2021 we opposed a similar motion by the opposition regarding funding, and the reason for this was that if any of the integrity agencies have concerns with the adequacy of current and future funding then they have the means to bring this to the attention of the Integrity and Oversight Committee. It is then up to the committee to address these concerns in a way in which they see fit and respond accordingly. As a member of the committee, like I said, I can say that it is my belief that the IOC and the chair are fulfilling and discharging their duties in accordance with their responsibilities.
Given these reasons, we will not be supporting this motion.