IBAC has interviewed Premier Daniel Andrews in at least two investigations, including one into Labor’s “unethical” culture. It has publicly called for more funding and removing the power of the government of the day to set its funding, both of which the opposition has committed to.
Shing was appointed minister for water, regional development and equality in June. The committee has now had five different Labor MPs as chair since the 2018 election.
The witness welfare inquiry has at times been controversial, including when Shing demanded committee administrators “cut the feed” when Liberal MPs asked Redlich why Andrews was questioned in private hearings rather than in front of a camera.
IBAC believes that the committee’s decision to call for submissions would naturally lead to people involved in ongoing investigations writing to the committee. The agency’s concern was that it would not be able to respond to any allegations because of the ongoing investigations, and that once the allegations were leaked to the media it would be powerless to respond to the negative coverage.
The IBAC submission indicates the committee previously claimed it had been abiding by section 7(2) of the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003 which prohibits the committee from prejudicing investigations.
“The claim that the committee sought to, and has complied with, section 7(2) is simply wrong,” IBAC’s submission states.
“The response makes no attempt to explain how the profound procedural unfairness would be
addressed arising from the fact that the committee’s reason for announcing an inquiry was to
explore matters relating to an ongoing investigation.”
Redlich has requested a private hearing with the committee to address claims that IBAC puts undue pressure on people it is investigating, arguably contributing to poor mental health.
“Despite raising these issues on multiple occasions, the correspondence received to date from [Shing] has been unresponsive and/or has reinforced the concerns highlighted above,” IBAC’s submission reads.
The Andrews government declined to comment because it does not answer for the committee.
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