Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Victorian Parliamentary integrity commission consultation to begin

The Victorian Government today announced it will soon begin consultation on the final model for a Parliamentary Integrity Commission to investigate allegations of misconduct by MPs, ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

A proposed Parliamentary Integrity Commission Bill will implement seven recommendations from the IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman’s July 2022 report into Operation Watts, as well as the 2021 review of the parliamentary workplace commissioned by the Presiding Officers, Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan said today.

“We’re holding a thorough consultation process to ensure we achieve the highest standards of conduct and integrity of MPs in all aspects of their work for Victorians,” the Premier said.

The proposed model draws on the work of the Jenkins Report, and includes the Government‘s commitment to allow the Commission to investigate allegations of inappropriate parliamentary workplace behaviour.

Consultation will begin shortly to inform the final model ahead of legislation being introduced to Parliament next year.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said consultation was a significant next step to the establishment of the new Parliamentary integrity framework. 

“Victorians deserve to have confidence in the political parties and public institutions that serve them – that’s why the Government has been working hard to implement every one of Operation Watts‘ recommendations,” said Ms Symes.

She said the proposed Bill will promote confidence in Victoria’s parliamentary standards and integrity system by providing independent and effective oversight of MPs and ministers. 

It will also bring arrangements regarding inappropriate parliamentary workplace behaviour into line with standards in other workplaces. 

The proposed Bill is also set to strengthen Victoria’s parliamentary standards and integrity framework by: 

  • establishing a Parliamentary Ethics Committee;
  • improving mechanisms relating to public interest disclosures about MPs; and 
  • establishing the existing Parliamentary Integrity Adviser in legislation. 

The Government accepted all Operation Watts recommendations directed to the Government, and  $8.52 million was provided to the Department of Parliamentary Services to support the implementation of recommendations that relate to the operation of Parliament.

The model for the Parliamentary Integrity Commission has been developed drawing on the recommendations of various reviews, integrity frameworks in other jurisdictions, and modern workplace standards.

Recommendations from the Operation Watts report regarding MP staff arrangements are being addressed in a separate ongoing piece of work.

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