Vic watchdog eyes laws to cut court action

·2-min read

Victoria's corruption watchdog commissioner wants reforms to curb court action delaying the publishing of his findings.

Robert Redlich, head of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, has written to Victoria's government and opposition calling for legislative changes to negate people going to court to challenge the agency's draft report findings.

In the leaked letter, published by Nine newspapers, the former Supreme Court judge said amending the IBAC Act would "aid a much more timely completion of investigations".

"While these challenges can be for a variety of different reasons, the speed with which the litigation is determined is largely under the control of the court and dependent upon the priority which individual judges are prepared to give to the particular litigation," Mr Redlich wrote.

The commissioner - whose five-year term expires at the end of 2022 - raised the prospect of limiting legal challenges on natural justice grounds, which give those subject to adverse findings a right of reply before a report is tabled.

An IBAC spokeswoman said natural justice was an important and necessary part of its process and confirmed Mr Redlich had requested both parties consider if any amendments were possible to ensure reports are published as soon as possible.

"This will ensure IBAC's investigation findings and learnings can be shared with the public sector and broader community as a matter of priority," she said in a statement.

In May, the watchdog said its Operation Sandon draft report was in the natural justice phase after a media report emerged that Premier Daniel Andrews was questioned in private over a link to property developer John Woodman.

The long-running probe centres on allegations of corrupt planning and property development decisions at Casey City Council, with public hearings concluding almost 18 months ago.

Mr Andrews queried how the commissioner's letter became public and said he wouldn't be drawn into a debate with IBAC.

"They've got views. They're apparently very, very upset that these matters are in the public domain. I'll leave it to them to investigate that," the premier told reporters at state parliament.

Shadow treasurer David Davis said Victoria's integrity system needed improvement to stop inquiries being stalled through legal action.

"Those who are subject to negative findings by the IBAC obviously have a right to have their say ... but equally IBAC should not be stymied or stalled in tabling important reports in parliament," he said.

The opposition has moved to debate a private member's bill in the upper house to facilitate timely reporting by IBAC.

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