The Victorian Greens have called out the State Labor Government’s continued go slow on introducing meaningful integrity reform in the wake of a joint IBAC and Ombudsman update on the implementation of recommendations from Operation Watts.

Operation Watts was an investigation into how branch stacking in the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) resulted in the misuse of public funds for party political purposes, and subversion of parliamentary standards and processes.

The update released today found that only two of the 21 recommendations had been acquitted in full by the government, despite it having publicly committed to supporting all recommendations prior to last year’s election.

Victorian Green’s Spokesperson for Integrity, Dr. Tim Read, lamented the Labor Government’s lack of urgency on implementing basic integrity reforms, saying that they had used every excuse in the book, and then some, to delay combating corruption and raising political standards.

“Three damning anti-corruption reports, and almost a decade after the ‘red-shirts’ scandal, the Andrew’s Government is still offering increasingly implausible reasons why they can’t implement the most basic of political integrity reforms.”

Dr Read called out as “rubbish” the government’s litany of previous excuses for delaying reform, including that they needed IBAC’s Operation Sandon to report, before they could start acting.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Green’s Spokesperson for Integrity, Dr Tim Read:

“If the Government says they can only start implementing integrity reforms after all active investigations into its own corruption are concluded, we may well be waiting an eternity.

“Victoria is not alone when it comes to political corruption, but the Andrew’s Government stands alone in its aversion to implementing integrity reform in response to it,” Read said.

“With only five sitting weeks left this year, the government is on track to miss their deadline of mid-2024 to implement the Operation Watts recommendations, despite non-government MPs being uncharacteristically united on this issue.

“The Government refused to back the Greens amendment for an Integrity Commissioner in 2019, now it says it supports one only after it consults with non-government MPs - well I can tell them now that they need to just do it.

“Most of the integrity reforms IBAC are calling for have operated in other states for decades, and would at most take a simple amendment to implement, if they required legislation at all.