Victorian Ombudsman seeks independence from executive

It doesn’t feel right to ask the executive for money when you’re the government’s watchdog, argues the Victorian Ombudsman, who has seen an increase in complaints this year.

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has requested the office’s funding appropriation decisions to be handed from the executive to the parliament, arguing that the existing setup “doesn’t feel right”.

In the agency’s annual report, released Wednesday, Glass argues that “as an independent officer of Parliament … I believe that my budget should not be reliant on the executive — over whom I have jurisdiction,” suggesting that giving parliament responsibility for appropriations, as is the case for the auditor-general’s office, would be in the public’s long-term interest.

The Ombudsman answers to the parliament, rather than the government of the day, and can only be dismissed by the parliament.

Glass told The Mandarin “it’s more a matter of principle, as the executive has been cooperative in my requests” but that “it doesn’t feel right, even when you’re dealing with a cooperative and helpful department.

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