Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (29 November) . . Page.. 5142 ..
Magistrates Court to the Supreme Court would also be a likely result, which would then cause further delay.
We understand that there will be some amendments put forward by the opposition relating to the role of, and the level of information provided to, the inspector. The government considers that the inspector provides crucial oversight of the integrity commission's powers conferred by the bill, particularly in relation to the significant coercive powers the commission will have. The inspector's main role is to provide effective oversight of the integrity commission, particularly to assess and report on the commission's legislative compliance.
The inspector will handle complaints about the commission and provide annual reports to the relevant Assembly committee. The inspector has an important role (Extension of time granted.) in ensuring that the commission's intrusive powers are not being abused.
The bill provides for the ACT Ombudsman to be the inspector until such time as an appointment is made. The Ombudsman is well placed to be the inspector, as the inspector's functions substantially correspond to the functions of the ACT and Commonwealth Ombudsman. The inspector does not have the coercive powers that the integrity commissioner has to investigate corrupt conduct. The inspector will be able to access the commission's record to ensure that they are acting within their legislative power.
Throughout each year, the commission will be required to report to the inspector on the use of their powers. The government considers that the monthly reporting requirements from the commission to the inspector are appropriate. This level of reporting does not make the inspector a line manager. It does not mean that they will be second-guessing the commission's actions in real time, and it does not create an undue burden on the commission. But it does ensure that regular updates are made and that there is contact between the bodies.
The bill contains a requirement for the commission to report to the inspector seven days prior to a public examination, with sufficient reasons. We anticipate that an amendment will come forward from the opposition on this point. But, given the extreme potential ramifications of being called to be examined publicly, the government considers this step to be an extremely important safeguard for all parties involved, including for the commission itself.
On an annual basis the inspector will undertake an operational review to assess the commission's compliance with the act and will prepare a report on this review, which will be contained within the inspector's annual report.
The government reiterates its determination to include ACT police within the scope of the commission. As I have outlined, and in tabling a separate exposure draft containing the police provisions, we are unable to legislate on this matter at the moment. But I am hopeful that the Prime Minister or his successor will expedite amendments to the self-government act to allow this inclusion.