Politicisation of Victorian public service to be investigated

The politicisation of Victoria’s public service is to be the subject of an investigation led by former Commonwealth and NSW Ombudsman Professor John McMillan.

Professor John MacMillan

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has released an issues paper seeking submissions to assist the investigation, which will enquire into allegations of an emerging trend of people with a political affiliation being appointed to executive positions in the Victorian public service, and the effect this is having.

“In February this year the Victorian Legislative Council passed a motion which required the Ombudsman to investigate a number of matters, including what has been described as ‘the politicisation of the public service,” Ms Glass said.

“I encourage anyone with an interest to read the Issues paper and contact us if they believe they may have useful information.”

The investigation will consider:

  • Impropriety in the way executive officers have been appointed
  • Examples of the public service either suffering adversely or benefitting from people with a political affiliation being appointed to executive positions
  • Examples of government administration being detrimentally or beneficially affected by people with a political affiliation being appointed to executive positions
  • The need to reform the way in which executive officers are appointed by the state government

Ms Glass confirmed she had appointed Professor MacMillan to lead the investigation.

The probe is the second part of a two-part investigation responding to the government motion requiring the ombudsman to look into a number of matters including allegations of branch stacking and claims that there had been a ‘marked shift in the number of political operatives installed in senior bureaucratic jobs’

The first part of the investigation will focus on matters related to the ‘red shirts’ misuse of public funds scandal and Operation Watts, which is examining allegations that Victorian public officers engaged in corrupt conduct by directing taxpayer-funded ministerial and electorate office staff to perform party‐political work.

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