ACT Greens Member for Molonglo, Shane Rattenbury, today welcomed the formal induction of the Auditor-General, Ombudsman and members of the ACT Electoral Commission as officers of the ACT Legislative Assembly.
“Last year the Greens presented a bill to recognise the auditor-general, ombudsman and the members of the Electoral Commission as officers of the Assembly as part of a suite of governance and integrity reforms the Greens committed to deliver,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“I am pleased today that we have fulfilled the Parliamentary Agreement Item requiring that oversight bodies are responsible to the Parliament, not to the executive.
“The Electoral Commission carries out the functions that underpin the effective exercise of our democracy. Its actual and perceived independence is essential to ensuring that we have a robust democracy here in the ACT.
“The Auditor General and the Ombudsman are responsible for overseeing and scrutinising the actions of the executive. Today, having been made officers of the Assembly, they are now formally independent of the entity they review.
“This is not simply a symbolic gesture. The Officers of Assembly Legislation Amendment Bill that the Greens introduced in 2013 acts as a safeguard against political pressure now and in the future.
“Today’s swearing in of members of the ACT Electoral Commission, Auditor-General and the Ombudsman should reassure the Canberra community that these essential roles are protected from political influence.
“Today marks the delivery of the second of three governance and integrity reforms proposed by the ACT Greens and committed to by the ACT Government under the Parliamentary Agreement. The first was legislating to increase standing under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1989.
“I, and the ACT Greens, look forward to tabling a new Freedom of Information Act that will increase the ambit of information deemed to be in the public interest.
“As a Greens Minister I will continue to work with my colleagues to see the remaining final Governance and Integrity Parliamentary Agreement item delivered,” concluded Mr Rattenbury.