Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Statements on parliamentary committee reports

Integrity and Oversight Committee

Integrity and Oversight Committee

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

Gary MAAS (Narre Warren South) (10:24): It gives me some pleasure to rise to speak in the committee reports part of today. To avoid any doubt, I would like to speak to The Independent Performance Audits of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Victorian Inspectorate. Of course the report was made in the 59th Parliament, at a time when things were a lot simpler. For instance, there were only 55 members on this side.

A member: How many are there now?

Gary MAAS: Fifty-six, I think. But of course it was tabled in December of last year. I too, like some of my colleagues in this place who were on the committee last year, would like to say a big thankyou, with a great sense of gratitude, in fact, to the secretariat of this committee and, I would say, one of the hardest working secretariats in this Parliament. I will mention them by name because they all play very specific roles, and quite frankly their collective is so much greater than the sum of their individual parts, because the team that they have created over there really does help inform the work that the committee does. To Sean Coley, who is the committee manager and basically keeps the vehicle on the road: I commend your work. Dr Stephen James, who is the senior research officer, just adds incredible academic insights and reasoning to the research grunt work that is performed by the committee. To that end, in terms of that research grunt work, I would say a big thankyou to Tom Hvala and Holly Brennan – incredible work under very difficult circumstances. It would have been very difficult for them towards the end of last year. While all the other committees had finished up their work – some were on secondments, others were probably taking leave – they themselves were working right through until 31 October, and I commend the work that they did throughout that period. Of course all of that work means nothing unless you have got incredible admin and an incredible admin crew that pieces all of that work together, and to that end I would like to thank Maria Marasco and Bernadette Pendergast as well.

I do note that there was a minority report that was put in this report, and look, I will say this: if you are going to make a minority report on a report into an audit of which the work is incredibly important to the future of our integrity agencies, then you make sure that that report actually goes to some substance and detail. There is no point in producing something that looks like it has been slapped together at the last minute – I think it goes for a total of something like four pages – and trying to attack the actual integrity of a report that has taken a year to put together. The only constant in this place is change, and if you cannot get used to that, then you probably should not be in politics is my view.

I commend this report. It is a great report, and it has been put together very, very carefully from the work that was provided by Callida, who were the auditors. As I have said in my foreword to the report as chair of that committee, there is a tremendous amount of disappointment that we express to IBAC and the Victorian Inspectorate, who did not provide the information that was required in order for the independent auditor to conduct the performance audit to the fullest extent possible. We did not provide a four-page, skinny justification for that. What we did provide was some very eminent legal opinion from a KC and a very senior legal counsel. To that end, I still do commend the report, and I thank the house for its time.