Victoria tardiness behind law delay
- From: The Australian
- February 22, 2011
THE Baillieu government failed to make a formal request to Canberra to enable legislation for its new anti-corruption regime until late last week, undermining claims the slow workings of federal parliament was to blame for its delay.
Anti-Corruption Minister Andrew McIntosh has said the body will not be fully operational in July as promised because of the time it will take to get crucial legislation through both houses of federal parliament and the independent MPs.
He told The Australian the commonwealth had to sign off on telephone intercept powers and this would take longer than expected because of the independents’ need to scrutinise all legislation.
It emerged yesterday that Mr McIntosh’s department formally wrote to the federal Attorney-General’s office only last week — almost three months after coming into office — asking it for the amendments to the required legislation to set up Victoria’s Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission.
Independent federal MP and former whistleblower Andrew Wilkie said he did not believe the make-up of federal parliament would slow down the process of legislation.
“Yes, the crossbenchers do take the time needed to properly scrutinise bills and this is making for better outcomes,” he said.
“But there is no evidence we hinder progress and no basis for the Victorian government to blame the federal independents for its inability to meet its own deadline.”
Mr McIntosh again yesterday said it would “take some time” for the state to get commonwealth approval for these powers but he reiterated it was nothing to do with politics — it was the parliamentary process.
A spokesman for Mr McIntosh last night said the minister was not attacking the federal government or the parliament for the delays.
“We are not criticising the commonwealth for delaying the legislation — we have been advised of the process we have to go through and that is what we are doing,” he said.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government was “happy to work with the Victorian government on this issue, including proceeding with legislation in parallel to Victorian amendments”.
Meanwhile, Mr McIntosh said the government was open to Victorian, interstate and international candidates to fill the role of the commissioner of the IBAC.
“But we don’t have anyone in mind at this stage,” he said. “What we want is someone who is independent of government, is seen to be independent of government and who will do a first-class job.”
Mr McIntosh has ruled out the head of the soon-to-be abolished Office of Police Integrity, Michael Strong.