The Victorian Greens have said IBAC’s Operation Daintree report has reinforced the urgent need to open ministerial diaries to the public in Victoria.
The Greens say this would allow Victorians to see who is influencing government decisions and how they are doing it.
Making Ministerial diaries public was one of the key reforms in an integrity bill introduced by the Greens to the Upper House last year.
The report released today has shown how union lobbying, combined with pressure from both the Premier’s office and Ministerial offices, led to the union being inappropriately awarded a lucrative training contract.
In fact, attempts by public servants to end the contract were reportedly thwarted by an advisor from the Premier’s office.
Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Dr Tim Read, said the Government has known about the need to open ministerial diaries for a long time, given IBAC had already recommended it in a special report released last year in October.
The Premier even foreshadowed the recommendation when asked about it by the Greens during Question Time in August, but still has yet to take any action.
Queensland, New South Wales, and the ACT release ministerial diaries on a monthly or quarterly basis, providing a record of meetings between ministers. But even these fall short of the detail provided in some other countries, which describe ministerial meetings.
Quotes attributable to Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Dr Tim Read:
"Victoria could be a leader on integrity in our country, and instead we're a laggard.
"Today's IBAC report has laid bare the need to bring our integrity standards up to scratch.
"This means requiring detailed diaries of Ministers and parliamentary secretaries to be made public, as called for by IBAC last year, so Victorians can see who is influencing government decisions.
"We must also legislate codes of conduct for lobbyists, Ministers and their staff and strengthen them to require clearer information on potential conflicts of interest between government Ministers and lobbyists.
“Ministers are responsible for the actions of their staff, who are often following orders, and their intrusion into the public service shown here was the responsibility of those Ministers and the Premier.
"It’s embarrassing that IBAC feels Labor’s ministers need to be told the meaning of ministerial accountability, but adding this to their Code of Conduct should stop the gradual erosion of this concept.”