Dan apologises, accepts IABC verdict , I am the only certified clean MP: Somyurek

MELBOURNE, 20 July 2022: After today morning’s damning IBAC report findings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct involving Victorian public officers, including MPs, the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has apologized for what he has described as “absolutely disgraceful behavior” by Labor MPs detailed in the report, says an ABC report.

As a consequence, in a major decision, the Andrews government accepted the report and decided to “… support and implement all 21 recommendations from the IBAC’s report into Operation Watts relating to the integrity and ethical conduct of Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers and their respective staff.

Headlining the reforms, a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner will be established to receive and investigate complaints about possible misconduct from MPs. The Commissioner will be armed with robust powers and resources, including the power to recommend sanctions.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said, “Victorians deserve to have confidence in the political parties and public institutions that serve them.”
“This report and the significant reforms it has driven are absolutely critical. That’s why we’re going to implement all
of the IBAC’s recommendations – and go beyond them.”

Meanwhile, Adem Somyurek MP, former leader of the ALP’s Moderate faction has in a Tweet said, ” Today is a good day. IBAC had 7 years of my text and 7 years of my watts app messages/ 20 years of emails, & they had phone intercepts. They tried hard but they found nothing. I am the most scrutinized MP in Aus therefore I am the only certified clean MP in Aus. Time to get Dan.”

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In another Tweet, Somyurek said, ” I reject allegations of misuse of EO staff. IBAC/Omb have not presented any evidence to substantiate their claims no emails no text messages just lies by 2 Byrne loyalists who had motive. That does not constitute evidence. The privileges com will do a transparent public inquiry.”

The Victorian Ombudsman, Deborah Glass, and the IBAC Commissioner, Robert Redlich, welcome Premier Daniel Andrews’ in-principle commitment to implementing the report’s recommendations in full.

“We look forward to all parties and the crossbench accepting and implementing the reforms. We will be following up in the course to ensure that the recommendations have been adequately acquitted, the statement said.

A media release from the Premier’s office says:

“The Government will work with the Parliament – including representatives of the Opposition and Crossbench – to establish a joint Parliamentary Ethics Committee comprised of equal numbers of members from the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.
MPs will be banned from employing close family members in their electorate offices, and the Ministerial Code of Conduct will be amended to clarify that Ministers must ensure the public resources made available for performing their duties are not used for party-specific purposes.
Electorate officer recruitment, management and supervision will be reviewed alongside grant administration to ensure greater transparency and better processes.

On top of these reforms recommended by IBAC, the Government will also go a step further with three additional changes designed to further strengthen public trust and lift standards across the administration of all political parties in Victoria.

Major political parties will need to fulfill the minimum requirements of party administration to qualify for public funding.
This will include party memberships paid by traceable means, mandatory photo ID checks for new members joining a party, proof of eligibility to hold a concessional membership, and measures to ensure compliance in using the electoral roll.

These minimum requirements will apply to established parties in the parliamentary system and a threshold will determine which parties must meet the requirements. That threshold might be based on the number of MPs, the number of members in their party, or the amount of public funding they will receive.

The rules will be designed as to not disadvantage new parties from being established – but rather to make sure larger and more established ones are held to the standard that taxpayers expect from publicly funded organizations.

As well as possible breaches of the MPs’ Code of Conduct, the Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner will be able to examine the behavior of MPs – including bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and victimization – providing a crucial avenue for complaints to be heard and investigated.

Employment arrangements for Ministerial Staff will be codified consistent with the Commonwealth arrangements under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (Cth) to clearly set out the structure, terms, and conditions of employment.

Given the scale of the proposed reform to the Parliament’s oversight regime, the Government will undertake extensive consultation with Members of Parliament from all political parties.

Work on implementing the recommendations will begin immediately. As per the report’s recommendation, the Government will work towards the full establishment of the new parliamentary integrity framework – including in legislation – by June 2024.”

By Neeraj Nanda

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