IBAC reform backtrack: minister sees no evil, hears no evil

The Victorian government has signalled a backflip on its promise to strengthen the state’s anti-corruption body. A minister claims his state has less corruption than New South Wales, but those claims have been questioned as “idealistic” and “unreliable”.

Public trust in public administration is the loser if integrity bodies are not given the powers they need to fully investigate corruption and misconduct, says former Victorian auditor-general Des Pearson, who is sceptical of Victorian Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings’ claim that Victoria is less corrupt than New South Wales and therefore may not require the same level of anti-corruption powers.

In what appears to signal a backflip on Labor’s pre-election position, Jennings told The Age he believed NSW politics was more “contaminated” than Victoria’s, and that giving the Independent Broad-Based Anti-corruption Commission the same level of powers as NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption may be unnecessary:

“If we instantly replicate them [the NSW integrity rules] in Victoria it may expose some degrees of corrupt practice … but I don’t think it is going to unleash an avalanche of disclosures.”

Jennings (pictured above) is undertaking a review of the state’s integrity system, including IBAC, the ombudsman and auditor-general, as well as freedom of information and political donations. It is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

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