'Overdue' MP complaints body set to finally get legs

A parliamentary watchdog to probe poorly behaved Victorian MPs has moved a step closer, with long-awaited legislation hitting the floor of state parliament.

The Parliamentary Workplace Standards and Integrity Bill 2024 was introduced to the lower house on Tuesday.

It will establish a parliamentary integrity commission to investigate allegations against MPs of misconduct, such as bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and victimisation, as well as misuse of parliamentary allowances and register of interest breaches.

A parliamentary ethics committee would also be set up under the reforms to promote ethical practices by MPs.

"It's overdue," Premier Jacinta Allan said.

"We have embarked on the most significant overhaul of workplace standards in any parliament in the country."

The commission will not be given retrospective powers, meaning dumped Labor MPs Will Fowles and Darren Cheeseman cannot be investigated for past instances of alleged misconduct.

It also cannot investigate ministerial code of conduct breaches or alleged corruption, with the former dealt with by the premier and the latter by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

Under the bill, the commission can apply minor sanctions such as an order to issue an apology and recommend harsher penalties for serious misconduct and the tabling of an investigation report if deemed in the public interest.

Parliament's Labor-chaired upper and lower house privilege committees would have to explain if they decide against a recommended punishment in a tabled response, Ms Allan said.

One of the commissioners will work full time and the other two will be employed on a part-time basis.

Commissioners will be appointed for five years, with the selection process to be led by the premier's department and subject to the approval of the powerful integrity and oversight committee.

MPs who have have served in federal or state parliament within the last five years cannot be appointed to the commission under the legislation's selection criteria.

The reforms follow through on seven recommendations from IBAC and Victorian Ombudsman's Operation Watts report into Labor branch-stacking and misuse of taxpayer funds.

Greens MP Tim Read at a press conference.
Greens MP Tim Read says Victoria remains behind other states for reining in MP behaviour. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Integrity and oversight committee chair and Greens MP Tim Read said it should not have taken so many IBAC investigations and MP scandals to introduce the bill.

"It's good to see the government finally move on this, but it's terribly frustrating it has taken so many Labor MPs behaving so badly to do so," the Greens integrity spokesman said.

"Despite this bill, Victoria remains behind other states.

"We urgently need to strengthen IBAC, legislate codes of conduct for ministers, and establish legislated independent parliamentary committee chairs and rules that force the government to release documents."

Opposition Leader John Pesutto said the state coalition had not seen a final draft of the bill and would reserve its position until after reading a copy on Wednesday.

Earlier, the premier announced the appointment of Mordialloc MP Tim Richardson as Australia's first parliamentary secretary for men's behaviour change.

"(The position) will focus largely on the influence the internet and social media have on boys' and men's attitudes towards women and building respectful relationships," Ms Allan said.

Albert Park MP Nina Taylor was also named parliamentary secretary for education, replacing Mr Cheeseman after he was axed from the role and then Labor's parliamentary party over allegations of repeated inappropriate behaviour towards female staff.

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