The Victorian Greens have welcomed the recommendations from a report released by IBAC today into the corruption risks associated with donations and lobbying in Victoria.
The damning report confirmed what the Greens have been campaigning on for years: that our integrity standards continue to lag behind the rest of the country, leaving our political system open to undue influence and political misconduct.
The Greens say the recommendations made by IBAC today to boost our integrity standards are almost identical to the reforms in a bill they introduced in August this year.
In an effort to fast-track these reforms the Greens will reintroduce their Integrity and Anti-Corruption Bill 2022 early next year.
The bill would:
- Strengthen the powers of IBAC. The independent watchdog would be given greater licence to investigate MPs, Ministers, parliamentary secretaries and lobbyists.
- Legislate 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.
- Stop the revolving door between Ministers and lobbying. To prevent Ministers and advisors from moving straight into lobbyist roles after leaving their jobs at Parliament.
- Establish a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner. The Commissioner would be appointed immediately and oversee and enforce MP standards, the lobbyist register, and investigate any potential breaches of the respective codes of conduct.
Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, said Victoria has fallen way behind the rest of the country when it comes to parliamentary integrity because the government continues to only act after it is forced to by integrity agencies.
He said lobbyists have enjoyed cosy relationships with government ministers and as recent investigations have made clear, misconduct is rife.
While the current Victorian Labor Government has already voiced its support for IBAC’s recommendations ‘in principle’, the Greens say it is important this isn’t a can that continues to get kicked down the road.
Until our integrity standards are brought up to scratch with the rest of the country, Victoria will remain a laggard and our political system will be open to corruption.
The IBAC report also recommended election spending caps and stronger regulation of donations at both state and local government levels, consistent with the Greens long-held advocacy on these issues.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
“Victoria could be a leader on integrity in our country, and instead we’re a laggard.
“That’s why the Greens will reintroduce our bill to do exactly what IBAC has called for in the first half of next year.
“And once again we urge the Government, Opposition and Parliament to get on board and improve political standards, by immediately indicating their support for our bill.
“We’re glad Labor has already supported IBAC’s recommendations in principle, but they need to actually follow through this time, instead of watering down the legislation as they did in 2019 when we tried to legislate a standards commissioner after the red shirts.
“With more Greens in Parliament this November we can push for Victoria to have the highest integrity standards in the country, and prevent dodgy government and MP corruption from happening in the first place.”