Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Statements on parliamentary committee reports

Integrity and Oversight Committee

Statements on parliamentary committee reports

Integrity and Oversight Committee

The Independent Performance Audits of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Victorian Inspectorate

Kim WELLS (Rowville) (10:04): I rise to speak on the Integrity and Oversight Committee report, TheIndependent Performance Audits of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Victorian Inspectorate. But before I go into detail on the report, can I put on record the excellent work of the secretariat, led by Sean Coley. The IOC is actually a combination of two committees from the previous term of Parliament: the IBAC committee, which I chaired from 2014 to 2018, and the Accountability and Oversight Committee, which was chaired by Neil Angus, the then member for Forest Hill. The IBAC Committee secretariat was led by the great Sandy Cook – highly, highly intelligent, super smart, absolutely tenacious in her views and had an incredible ability to be able to find a set of words to work through a paper where all sides of politics would agree. I always found it difficult to believe that her favourite day of the year was grand final day because she could go and do her shopping on a Saturday afternoon without anyone being in Woolworths. To this day, I still cannot understand her logic – evidently. So Sean Coley had big shoes to fill to pull the two committees together, and he has done an absolutely excellent job. He has always had great help from Dr Stephen James, former researcher from the IBAC Committee, as part of the team, who has a brilliant, brilliant mind. Thanks also to Tom, Holly, Maria and Bernadette.

The actual make-up of the committee over the last four years has been very unusual, I would say. In fact the only constants over the four years were the deputy chair, the MP for Sandringham, and me; our roles in the whole four years did not change at all. The one thing that is important to a committee as crucial as Integrity and Oversight is consistency, absolute consistency, and the Andrews government obviously missed that part of the memo – the need for consistency. So let us go through what actually happened on the committee. First off, we had our first chair. Chair number one was the member for Melton. He got sick and tired of being the chair for the IOC, so he stepped down. Then we had chair number two, who was the member for Altona, Jill Hennessy. Jill, being a former Attorney-General, was very good in that position. Then Jill stepped down because she got sick and tired of the committee. So then we had chair number three. Can you remember chair number three?

Brad Rowswell: Ms Shing.

Kim WELLS: No, no, the member for Sandringham is actually incorrect. We had the member for Ringwood come in as chair number three. He did not last much longer, so then we had chair number four, who was –

Brad Rowswell: Ms Shing in the other place.

Kim WELLS: member for Eastern Victoria Ms Shing. And blow me down, just when we think that we have finally, finally got someone to see out the rest of the term, what happens? Harriet gets promoted and we end up with the member for –

Gary Maas: Narre Warren South.

Kim WELLS: Narre Warren South. Fortunately, the member for Narre Warren South saw out the rest of the term, so we are very thankful for the member for Narre Warren South. But he was the fifth chair, so we were in a position where we were having a welcome lunch and a farewell lunch on pretty much the same day when we were turning over these chairs. It was embarrassing, and it was particularly embarrassing with the secretariat having to brief up a brand new, brand new, brand new chair the whole time. It was frustrating for us on our side of politics. Meanwhile, if they had just stuck with or promoted the member for Sandringham and made him the chair, we would have had four years of consistency and we would have been able to get on with it.

Towards the end of the parliamentary term a number of decisions did not seem to be consistent with what the committee was doing, so we would be making a decision and all of a sudden we would see something in the paper that was completely different. So that is the conclusion of my discussion on the audit, and I wish the new committee very well.