Welcome to the September edition of IBAC Insights.
As the end of the year fast approaches, many will be aware, the end of my five-year term at IBAC is also very near.
Despite this, the next few months will see a significant amount of work take place. In our last edition I mentioned we are working to publish several important reports, and the finalisation of a number of operations remains delayed because of ongoing litigation. The reports, when published, will each make recommendations as part of IBAC's prevention and education functions.
2022 State election
On Saturday 26 November, Victorians will vote to elect the next Parliament of Victoria. As Victoria's independent agency responsible for preventing and exposing public sector corruption and police misconduct, IBAC is in a unique position to understand the range of corruption risks that may arise in the lead up to the election.
There is an inherent risk around donations and lobbying that can result in the community questioning whether decisions will be made in the public interest. It is essential for trust in the political system to remain strong – and for political parties to demonstrate transparency and accountability for the Victorian community.
In anticipation of the election, IBAC has written to all Victorian political parties to remind them of the corruption risks they may be exposed to. It is important for all candidates be able to recognise corruption risks they may face -pre-election, and address them appropriately.
In 2018, Victoria introduced new rules on political donations aimed at increasing transparency and protecting against improper influence in political decision making. The upcoming election will be the first true test of these reforms.
IBAC's work to expose corruption – including investigations, reviews, research and strategic intelligence analysis – builds the foundation for our prevention work.
Our investigations consider broader systemic issues and gaps or weaknesses in controls that can facilitate public sector corruption and police misconduct. Following an IBAC investigation or a review of a Victoria Police investigation, a large focus of our work goes to driving procedural and system improvements to reduce and prevent future corruption and misconduct.
This edition of IBAC Insights features a piece on IBAC's 2021-24 Corruption Prevention Strategy – a strategy which supports a proactive, integrated and intelligence-led approach to corruption prevention in Victoria. We know that corruption damages the community's confidence in the public sector and police. IBAC developed the strategy to ensure we better inform and educate the community and the public sector about corruption and how to prevent it, while also providing support to improve policies, systems and practices.
In July, IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman (VO) tabled a special report in Parliament following a joint investigation into allegations of serious corrupt conduct involving Victorian public officers, including Members of Parliament.
The Operation Watts special report illustrates a catalogue of unethical and inappropriate behaviour ranging from the hiring of unqualified people into publicly funded roles, using those roles to support factional work, nepotism, forging signatures, bullying and attempts to interfere with the government grants process.
Operation Watts highlighted widespread misuse of public resources for political purposes after investigating a range of matters including allegations of misuse of electorate offices, ministerial office staff and resources for branch stacking and other party-related activities.
IBAC and the VO welcome Premier Daniel Andrews' in principle commitment to implementing the recommendations in full.
The months of July and August saw the conclusion of IBAC's Operation Naxos with former Melton mayor and Labor candidate Justin Mammarella and his father and former electorate officer Umberto ‘Robert’ Mammarella, each sentenced to three-year Community Correction Orders.
Operation Naxos investigated allegations of fraudulent practices within the electorate office of former member of the Victorian Parliament Khalil Eideh. The allegations related to the misuse of taxpayer funded resources to assist Justin Mammarella’s preselection campaign for the 2018 state election through branch stacking.
Operation Naxos resulted in a total of four people being charged including two former electorate officers previously employed by the Department of Parliamentary Services and a volunteer. The charges related to conspiracy to attempt to pervert the course of justice, perjury, conspiracy to mislead IBAC and disclosure of IBAC information.
Working with diverse communities
IBAC is committed to better engaging with Victoria's diverse communities. In this edition's podcast, our Executive Director of Prevention and Communication, Linda Timothy, chats to the Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities, Todd Fernando, about the work his Commission is doing and how we can all improve the way we work with diverse people.
The Honourable Robert Redlich AM, KC
Read more in IBAC Insights Issue 33.