Saturday, May 08, 2010

Memo to Brumby: Parliament is Supreme not government

Open and transparent accountable government is essential to good governance

There is no need for a ongoing Commission on Corruption as recommended by Craig Langdon, a disenfranchised member of Parliament who has lost pre-selection, there never the less is ongoing serious concern about the Brumby government and their consistent attempts to undermine and prevent Parliamentary and independent review of government.

However John Brumby's refusal to subject Government to open independent review is a real concern.

The Victorian Government has recently attacked and undermined the role of the office of the Ombudsman and even brought into question the right of parliament to undertake a review. To add to this concern Brumby has also refused to subject the Victorian Electoral Commission to review making it accountable to Ombudsman.

It is difficult for any government to undertake or support any review of the electoral commission without running the risk of being accused of interfering and intimidating the electoral office. The Victorian Chief Electoral Commissioneris an officer of the Parliament and as such is not readily subjected to government oversight. Whilst we do not assert there is overt corruption in the Victorian State Electoral Commission there are issues of serious concern related to the administration and the competence of the Electoral Commission. The Parliamnatary committee review of the conduct of the 2006 State election failed to address a number of serious flaws and omissions in the conduct of public elections.

The actions of the Chief Commissioner in seeking to deflect criticism over in the way in which municipal and state elections are conducted in Victorian is a real concern. The Chief Commissioner in his report to parliament has raised a number of issues that parliament has either swept over, ignored to buried their head in the sane. The Chief Commissioner has gone as far as false allegation as part of an ongoing attempt to harass witnesses to the Parliamentary inquiry. Complaints have been made to the parliament but the parliament has failed to undertake a proper review of the Commissioner's actions. Never the less there are issues that need to be and should be properly addressed. The office of the Ombudsman in the absence of a parliamentary investigation is the appropriate body to undertake such a review.

Public elections are no longer open and transparent. The administration of the Victorian State Electoral Office is not subjected to the normal processes of review as is the case with other government administrations.

The parliamentary committee on Electoral Matters, now headed buy Robin Scott is aware of the issues but have failed to subject the Electoral Commission to the review by the Ombudsman. Parliament has not at red top amend the Ombudsman act which as it stands removes the Electoral Commission from its jurisdiction.

To make matters worst the Office of Public Prosecutions headed by John Cain Jr. has sought to prevent public comment and discussion on the states administration by seeking to imtimmidate independent media reports on the role and conduct played by the Victorian Electoral Commission. A public body that is in serious need of review and is not held accountable for its actions.

This along with recent reports that the Government is questioning the right of the Victorian parliament to undertake a review in the Legislative Council is of real concern. It removes the avenue of transparency and accountability of government.

Brumby's refusal to subject government administration to review, his attacks on the office of the ombudsman and the recent attempt to prevent the parliamentary inquiries allows corruption to take root and fester.

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