Victorian State Opposition Unveils Election Pledge of ‘Strong’ IBAC and Ombudsman

Victoria’s state opposition has unveiled a pledge to increase funding for the state’s ombudsman and anti-corruption watchdog, to rebuild a ‘system of integrity and honesty in government’.

Under the opposition plan, the broad-based Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) would regain broader powers for public hearings.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said as part of the pledge, the Coalition would inject an additional $10 million into the IBAC budget per year and increase funding for the Victoria Ombudsman by $2 million dollars per year.

“We want to restore respect to these integrity watchdogs – that’s what Victorians expect of us.”

“The National Liberal Party is focused on rebuilding our system of integrity and honesty in government and the Andrews government is focused on denigrating and defunding them.”

Requests for additional funding for independent bodies is a recurring problem in Victoria, with the IBAC and the Ombudsman regularly claiming that they need more to operate effectively.

In last year’s budget, Treasurer Tim Pallas allocated $54 million for the IBAC — an increase from previous years — and $20.2 million for the ombudsman in fiscal year 2021. -22.

Mr. Pallas will present his next budget on Tuesday.

Opposition Affairs Director Kim Wells said Liberal and National policy would also involve changes to the Parliamentary Committees Act to allow the Joint Integrity and Oversight Committee to exercise budget oversight.

“Never again will they be subject to the whims of the Labor government or any future government,” she said.

“That will mean they will always be properly funded and will always be subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny.”

Mr Guy said he would reverse a decision by the Andrews government which meant most IBAC hearings were now held in private.

He said it was done “to weaken IBAC oversight” and “to protect this government.”

The government already under surveillance

Labor won the 2018 state election in a landslide, and polls suggest the coalition is unlikely to win in the November 2022 vote.

But Mr. Guy’s election promise could shift the focus to integrity issues at a time when the government is already under scrutiny.

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