Victoria’s first anti-corruption body will be overhauled under Labor, which argues it lacks the teeth needed to properly investigate.
Labor says that if elected in November, it will give the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) power to investigate misconduct in public office.
It would also enable the body to investigate indictable matters without first needing to find prima facie evidence of an offence.
IBAC, in its 13th month of operation, is responsible for investigating serious corruption in the state’s public service.
This covers some 250,000 workers including MPs, ministerial staffers, police personnel and local councillors.
But Labor argues the government has set the bar too high, so misconduct in public office offences are unlikely to be investigated.
“Denis Napthine and the Liberals have set up IBAC to fail,” shadow attorney-general Martin Pakula says.
“For almost two years, an army of people have been sitting around twiddling their thumbs because Denis Napthine and his Liberal government were too dysfunctional to set it up properly.
“Labor’s IBAC reforms will put some fangs into Denis Napthine’s toothless tiger.”
The Victorian government has been contacted for comment.
Any citizen can make a complaint about an MP to IBAC for investigation.
But if the complaint is made under the Whistleblowers Protection Act, which offers protection to those reporting improper conduct by public officers and public bodies, it must first go through the state parliamentary Speaker.
In contrast, whistleblower complaints about NSW politicians can be sent directly to that state’s anti-corruption commission.
As at 10 February, IBAC had 12 investigations under way, examining allegations involving a range of government agencies, police and local government authorities.
A government spokesman said the legislative framework for IBAC reflects its view that IBAC should focus its powers on tackling serious corruption.
The government would monitor its operation and consider any feedback from the IBAC commissioner and the parliamentary IBAC committee about possible changes, he said.