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Avalanche of reports sparks accusations -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Victorian Opposition today accused the Labor Government of doing a snow job on
the State Parliament by releasing an avalanche of more than 200 reports in Parliament this morning.

It's already clear that some of the reports contain details that are potentially politically
damaging.

One finds that a government environment body was partly responsible for a gas leak which led to
hundreds of residents abandoning a housing estate.

Another highlights links between senior Victorian police officers and convicted criminals.

In Melbourne, Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: The integrity of Victoria Police has long been undermined by links with criminals.
Now the Office of Police Integrity has uncovered yet more links.

The office's director Michael Strong:

MICHAEL STRONG: We're still concerned about associations between police and discredited former
police, between police and persons of bad character. Again, talking about small numbers but it's a
significant issue.

SIMON LAUDER: The Office of Police Integrity says experienced police officers are effectively
giving the green light to junior officers to cut corners and break rules.

The report says there have been 34 criminal charges recommended by the OPI against six serving or
former Victoria Police officers in the past year.

Mr Strong says links between police and criminals often involve the exchange of classified
information.

MICHAEL STRONG: There are some shady characters out there who will use any opportunity to cultivate
relationships with police and some police unfortunately just can't see the dangers in it.

It's a problem that's cropping up constantly particularly in regard to the leaking of confidential
information.

SIMON LAUDER: The findings are contained in the OPI's annual report which was tabled in Parliament
this morning.

Among the stack of other reports tabled today is one which reflects very badly on the agency which
is charged with protecting the environment.

Hundreds of residents of an outer Melbourne housing estate were forced to abandon their homes last
September when levels of methane which had seeped up from an old landfill site became unsafe.

The Ombudsman has found the environmental protection authority didn't impose tough enough standards
and were slow to act when the problem emerged.

The report says residents were placed at unnecessary risk by the actions of the EPA and the local
council.

James Higgins is from the law firm Slater and Gordon which is representing residents of the
Brookland Greens estate in a class action.

JAMES HIGGINS: It's really squarely raised the government agencies as the responsible bodies for
the disaster that occurred to our clients.

SIMON LAUDER: Your law firm is leading a class action over this case. What stage is that up to now?

JAMES HIGGINS: That's correct. Slater and Gordon represents in excess of 500 resident homes in the
local area of about 800 homes. And we're working desperately hard to try to ensure that the parties
mediate as soon as possible so that we do what the Ombudsman has called for which is allow
residents to be compensated for the bungling of the government agencies involved.

SIMON LAUDER: A written statement from the EPA says it accepts all of the recommendations of the
Ombudsman's report and is already implementing most of them.

The reports on the gassed estate and the links between police and criminals are just two among many
being released today.

The Opposition spokesman for the scrutiny of government David Davis says it's too much.

DAVID DAVIS: The Brumby Government is delivering 244 reports, an absolute avalanche of reports.
It's delivering these reports all on one day as part of a snow job.

SIMON LAUDER: The reports are all due by the end of this month and this week is the last
opportunity while Parliament sits. But David Davis believes the rush to file is about more than a
deadline. He says it's a deliberate strategy.

DAVID DAVIS: It's totally implausible to imagine that all of those authorities completed the
processes of their annual reports and got them ticked off by the Auditor General on the same day.

We know that the boxes of reports have been clustered in parliamentary offices here awaiting the
tick off, the letter from particular ministers to say you can now table them.

The reports have been available and they ought to have been tabled successively. As the printing
and the tick offs were completed they ought to have been put in to the Parliament one by one.

SIMON LAUDER: The Premier John Brumby has defended the practice of tabling hundreds of important
reports at once.

JOHN BRUMBY: It's no different to companies that have to sign off at the end of the financial year.
You tend to get all of their reports coming at once and that's because they're signing off on that
June 30 date.

So, you know, all of the information is there. It's provided to the Parliament. I'm sure there will
be plenty of questions about it today in Parliament. There's plenty of opportunity for people to
raise issues about these reports publicly, in the Parliament, in the media over the next week, the
next month, the next three months.

They're all there. They're all public reports. And they're all tabled to give that information to
the public.

ELEANOR HALL: Victoria's Premier John Brumby ending that report from Simon Lauder in Melbourne.