Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Statements on parliamentary committee reports

Integrity and Oversight Committee

Integrity and Oversight Committee

Performance of the Victorian Integrity Agencies 2020/21: Focus on Witness Welfare

Gary MAAS (Narre Warren South) (10:17): I too rise to make a contribution on the committee report known as Performance of the Victorian Integrity Agencies 2020/21: Focus on Witness Welfare. Ultimately it is a focus on witness welfare. It is about performance and outcomes of our integrity agencies. It is not about political outcomes, it is about using this incredible doctrine that holds our democracy together, known as the separation of powers, to enable oversight from the Parliament of Victoria of our integrity agencies to ensure that performance can be improved and to ensure that some unintended consequences – dire consequences, sad, tragic consequences – do not occur. It is certainly not about a political outcome that can be summarised in a couple of pages in a minority report.

For the body of work that has been put together by the Integrity and Oversight Committee, at this point I would like to commend the chair at the time, Ms Shing from the other place, who oversaw that body of work. About a year’s worth of work went into this report. It included hearings and many, many submissions from various stakeholders, all to ensure the betterment of performance of our integrity agencies. I have no doubt that the recommendations that have been made in this report will go to improving the general performance of our four integrity agencies.

I reiterate: it is about the general performance, it is not about specific investigations that are taking place. And if specific investigations are going to be referred to, whether it is in a minority report or whether it is in a public hearing, well, that should not be the case. Again, if you want democracy to hold and you want that separation of powers to be clear, then you have to make it so. That does not mean that if you are the head of one of those integrity agencies, you cannot make comment. By all means make comment, but understand your position. Parliament remains supreme. Parliament makes the laws. Courts declare those laws, and lawyers – God bless the lawyers – will interpret those laws.

Kim Wells: How come the Premier’s private office had to ring the journo?

Gary MAAS: Actually, I will pick up the interjection because here is another thing, member for Rowville: the amount of leaking which occurred from this committee, from I do not know where, is something which absolutely astounds me. If you cared so much about what the consequences were, then there would not have been the sort of leaking that occurred. Quite frankly, if you want to put in a minority report, turn up to work, and you should actually make the proper points that you wish to make about the performance of our integrity agencies and how we can improve that performance and not move into specific investigations. The leaking of confidential material from our Parliament and from our committees is an awful thing, and I would hope that that will not occur in the 60th Parliament’s form of this committee. This is an excellent report, and I commend this report to the house.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I just remind members that using the word ‘you’ reflects on the Chair – probably not an ideal thing.