The Victorian Greens have said if Labor is serious about curtailing ‘grey level’ corruption in state politics, they must 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.
Earlier today, the Victorian Labor Government responded to IBAC’s Operation Daintree report.
The report had previously revealed 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 – with attempts by public servants to end the contract reportedly thwarted by an advisor from the Premier’s office.
In response, the government has today said it will support only nine of the 17 recommendations from the report, and will not support making Ministerial advisers appear before parliamentary committees in regards to integrity issues.
The Greens say any meaningful integrity reform must shed more light on potential corruption in Minister’s offices, including making Minister’s and senior staff’s diaries public, and placing some parliamentary accountability on increasingly powerful advisers.
Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, said the government had known about the need to open Ministerial diaries, strengthen lobbying laws, and make advisers accountable for some time given IBAC had already recommended it in a special report released last year in October.
He said that Queensland, New South Wales, and the ACT already released Ministerial diaries on a monthly or quarterly basis, and had much more onerous integrity requirements for Ministers, and that it was high time Victoria followed suit.
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 bill also would have expanded the jurisdiction of IBAC so it could properly investigate and call out the serious kind of ‘grey level’ corruption exposed by Daintree, which was dismissed by the former Premier as ‘educational’ due to the weaknesses in the Commission’s jurisdiction.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens integrity spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
“Victoria should be leading on integrity and instead we’re a laggard.
“IBAC report after IBAC report has made clear that we 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 need to 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.
"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.”