How could they? Crossbenchers support Andrews appalling cuts to independent scrutiny agencies

The Hinch Party’s, Tania Maxwell and Stuart Grimley, Transport Matters’, Rod Barton, Animal Justice Party’s, Andy Meddick and Independent MP, Catherine Cumming have today voted to sustain the Andrews Labor Government’s savage budget cuts to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and the Office of the Victorian Ombudsman.

Given the opportunity in the Upper House to send a clear message to the Government that its cut of $4.4 million to IBAC’s budget and $2 million to the Ombudsman’s budget ought to be restored, Tania Maxwell, Stuart Grimley, Rod Barton, Andy Meddick and Catherine Cumming voted to support Labor’s cuts to the independent watch dogs. How could they?

Robert Redlich, the Commissioner of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, has called out Daniel Andrews’ cuts to IBAC’s budget in his December update.

Commissioner Redlich wrote: “… increased service levels cannot be delivered, even with IBAC’s recent allocation of funding.”

Labor’s recent budget revealed a $4.4 million cut to IBAC’s budget, severely limiting the watchdog’s capacity to investigate corruption.

IBAC currently has at least three open investigations involving Daniel Andrews’ Labor Party, including its dealings with a dodgy property developer, three Andrews Government ministers with allegations of branch stacking within the Labor Party, and the ongoing probe into the long-running CFA pay dispute between the Labor Government and the United Firefighters Union.

Daniel Andrews has also savagely cut the Ombudsman’s funding by about $2 million at the same time it is investigating allegations of branch stacking in the Labor Party and the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to lock down public housing towers.

The Ombudsman, Deborah Glass, in her recently released annual report wrote:  “Whether I can … continue to respond effectively to the increasing demands on my office, remains doubtful … and once again my ongoing funding has fallen substantially short of what is needed to respond to public expectations of my office”.

Comments attributable to the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, David Davis:

“Daniel Andrews’ cuts to IBAC and the Ombudsman are undemocratic and disgraceful.

“The decision of Tania Maxwell, Stuart Grimley, Rod Barton, Andy Meddick and Catherine Cumming to support Andrews’ cuts shows them to be naive and led by the Government with the IBAC Commissioner’s statements giving the lie to Labor claims that there were no cuts.

“Andrews hates scrutiny and he is determined to punish and target any agency that investigates his government – that is why he has cut funding to the independent watchdogs.”

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