Victorian Parliament refers new investigation to Ombudsman

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The Victorian Ombudsman will now consider an official referral from the Legislative Council for a new investigation after a private member’s motion was successfully passed.

The referral requires, amongst other things, Ombudsman Deborah Glass to investigate the “Red Shirts” scheme, including the role of the Premier in relation to the scheme.

The “Red Shirts” scheme was the subject of a previous Ombudsman investigation report, which the Ombudsman tabled in 2018 with her findings .

The referral also seeks to examine matters related to an ongoing joint Victorian Ombudsman and Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission investigation into misuse of public funds associated with branch stacking.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said while Parliament could refer any matter to her office for investigation, she maintained her discretion and independence under the Ombudsman Act as to how she would investigate.

Ms Glass said she would consult with IBAC on some of the matters in the referral including those in relation to her joint investigation with IBAC, Operation Watts.

“I will consider the extent to which the matters subject of the referral have already been investigated or are currently being investigated,” Ms Glass said.

“The public needs to have confidence that public resources are not being misused for political ends, and, as always, any investigation I lead will be independent and based on evidence.

“I have a discretion to investigate as I see fit, and I will refer matters and share information as appropriate and in accordance with the Ombudsman Act.”

The Red Shirts investigation stemmed from a referral from the Legislative Council to investigate allegations of ALP MPs’ misuse of staff budget entitlements before the 2014 state election.

Ms Glass will report to Parliament in due course on the latest referral.

No further public comments will be made on this referral.

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