Ombudsman files Supreme Court bid over 'genuine controversy'

By The Mandarin

February 1, 2016

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass seeks Supreme Court ruling on whether her office should pick up the tab for politically-motivated investigations of MPs.

The Supreme Court application was sparked by a recent referral from the Legislative Council. Last November the Legislative Council voted to refer allegations that government members of the Victorian Parliament misused staff budget entitlements against the provisions of the Members Guide. This referral was made under a provision of the Ombudsman Act.

“I have formed the view that there is genuine controversy as to my jurisdiction to investigate the matters in the Parliamentary referral,” Glass said on Monday.

“In the absence of any precedent on the scope of section 16 of the Act, to pre-empt any unnecessary cost being incurred, and given my role as an independent officer of the Parliament, I believe the present application is the most appropriate way to determine the matter.”

Glass said the application was to obtain legal clarity, but has written to the Legislative Council in the interim to advise that she will remain neutral on the jurisdiction question. Her submission to the court will present both views.

A copy of the submissions will be provided to the Parliament prior to the hearing.

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