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PLAYING POLITICS: Victoria’s Ombudsman seeking revenge on Baillieu

OmbudsmanVictoria’s Ombudsman has been made accountable for the first time to an inspectorate and parliamentary committee that will oversee its increasingly notorious activities.

In response, George Brouwer, soon to retire as Ombudsman, has been writing public letters attacking the government and has now launched a clearly politically motivated inquiry into compensation payments made by government to those they wished to depart office for sound political reasons, for example, then DPP Jeremy Rapke.

The idea that there is a politically independent, utterly neutral Ombudsman that acts without fear or favour, that acts without motivations like revenge or protecting its bureaucratic turf and power, is now utterly proven to be false.

This ongoing obscenity needs to be put right. Law enforcement and investigation resources should go the Victoria Police, not to joke agencies like this that make basic errors and appear to only employ those who couldn’t cut it at Vic Pol and other law enforcement bodies.

The government’s campaign promise of creating an IBAC has been fulfilled with a fair degree of care although past experience is a warning of injustices to come: the kinds of injustices unleashed by the Ombudsman where they write scathing reports that create the impression of scandal that are only later revealed by the passage of time (and absence of litigation or prosecutions) to be exaggerated or just simply false.

The Baillieu government has done very well in making the Ombudsman accountable for the first time but George Brouwer’s willingness to play politics demonstrates that these measures can only be considered a first step. Public officials who wish to play politics should submit themselves to election. And we don’t see George Brouwer and his junkyard dogs John Taylor and Lachlan McCulloch doing that anytime soon.




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  1. George Brouwer has a few scores to settle from the Kennett era when he was treated absymally.

    There is also the potential conflict of interest in Robert Clark who as the Minister for Finance who is supposed to be responsible for overseeing the control of government expenditure being the Attorney-General as well and therefore the person who authorised the payments to Rapke and others.

    This shows just how limited the new expensive commission will be. It will have plenty of coercive powers but it won’t be able to deal with Ministerial incompetence and secret deals to get rid of politically embarrassing personages.

    You only have to compare the duties cast on directors of private companies in terms of annual report disclosures and remuneration report votes and the like and the secrets that the government sector gets away with to know there is something seriously wrong with governance in the public sector.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | December 3, 2012, 8:39
  2. All public officials with coercive powers should be fully accountable to parliament and to the people. It is easy to put safeguards in place for ongoing investigations but ultimately if we are to have a liberal democracy we must control the rogue element that would use its powers to intimidate and bully its opponents or just people it doesn’t like.

    The Age did some awful things with privacy of personal records in the ALP election case and ought rightly be condemned for it. If crimes were committed, they should be prosecuted. Even if crimes were not committed, they should be held responsible for the ethical breaches and publicly admonished.

    However, every day public officials (such as police and tax officers and other investigators) stick their noses in just because they can without any accountability. Public officials owe public duties and should be held to a higher standard. As they formulate the laws, they seem to give themselves a lower hurdle than the private sector. They are hypocrites.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | December 3, 2012, 8:45


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