The Victorian government will introduce into parliament long-awaited reform legislation to bolster the state’s integrity regime on Tuesday.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission will be given new powers to investigate misconduct in public office, as well as the conduct of people who obtain an improper benefit when dealing with public officials.
IBAC will no longer be limited to considering serious corrupt conduct allegations or required to gather prima facie evidence of offences before it can investigate. It will also be able to launch preliminary inquiries.
To ensure IBAC can effectively gather intelligence about possible public sector corruption, public service heads and local council CEOs will be required to report corrupt conduct to IBAC.
In addition to the IBAC reform, the legislation will also give the Victorian Auditor General’s Office “follow-the-dollar” powers to audit public funds wherever they are spent to deliver important services on behalf of government.
This will allow the auditor-general to examine information from private sector providers of state services — such as public-private partnership operators — to inform performance audits.
Access to the Victorian Ombudsman’s services will be streamlined with Victorians able to submit complaints by phone, increasing public access to the Ombudsman’s important services. Currently complaints must be lodged in writing, despite 80% of contacts being made over the phone.
The government will reform the freedom of information system, with the establishment of a new Office of the Public Access Counsellor and improved response times for FOI inquiries.