Significant integrity reforms aimed at preventing lobbyists from having undue influence on Ministers in Victoria will be proposed this week under a bill to be introduced by the Greens.
The Integrity and Anti-Corruption (Higher Standards for Lobbyists, Ministers, and Members of Parliament) Bill 2022 would bring Victoria’s integrity standards up to scratch by:
- Strengthening the powers of IBAC. The independent watchdog would be given greater licence to investigate MPs, Ministers, parliamentary secretaries and lobbyists.
- Legislating the codes of conduct for Ministers and lobbyists. The Bill would legislate the existing codes of conduct for Ministers and lobbyists, and strengthen them to require clearer information on potential conflicts of interest between current government Ministers and lobbyists, and require the diaries of Ministers and parliamentary secretaries to be made public, as is the case in other states.
- Stopping the revolving door between Ministers and lobbying. This would prevent Ministers from moving straight into lobbyist roles after leaving their jobs at Parliament.
- Establishing a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner. The Commissioner would be appointed immediately and oversee MP standards, the lobbyist register, and investigate any potential breaches of the respective codes of conduct.
The bill would also amend the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003 so that no more than half of all joint committees, including Integrity and Oversight Committee and PAEC, could be members of the political party forming the government.
Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, said that while recent IBAC investigations had brought many of these issues to the fore, reforms like these had been needed for years.
He added that the Greens bill would be an important first step in improving Victoria’s integrity standards, by bringing us in line with the minimum standards that apply in other states.
The Greens believe these reforms are essential to restore public faith in the integrity of the Victorian Parliament, and as such the reforms should have widespread, multi-partisan support of the cross-bench, opposition and government.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
“For too long Victoria has fallen way behind the rest of the country when it comes to parliamentary integrity.
“Lobbyists enjoy cosy relationships with government ministers and as recent investigations have made clear, misconduct is rife.
“Without stronger checks and balances, how can Victorians trust in the integrity of government decisions?
“While the Government has committed to some measures on the back of a recent IBAC investigation, they won’t implement them until 2024.
“Our bill would bring Victoria into line with the minimum integrity standards in other states, and could be passed by the end of the year with the support of the government and the cross-bench.