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Court ignores COG on ombudsman

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Senator Andrew Murray (WA) Australian Democrats' Accountability Spokesperson

5 December, 1996 MEDIA RELEASE 96/851


The Court Government has again come under fire in the Senate for failing to implement recommendations of the WA Commission on Government to strengthen the independence and accountability of the State Ombudsman.

WA Democrat Senator Andrew Murray has told the Senate while the Court Government has •extended the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, it has failed to implement COG recommendations to strengthen the office.

"It is a fundamental responsibility of Parliament to provide to the people adequate checks and mechanisms to ensure that there are avenues for rectifying any injustice by a government department or agency," Senator Murray said.

"It is a responsibility the Court Government has failed to meet."

Senator Murray said the primary importance of the State Ombudsman to the Western Australian community made the implementation of all of the Commission's recommendations a fundamental responsibility o f the government.

“The recommendations of the COG which have not been heeded by the Court Government go to the independence, resources and effectiveness of the Ombudsman as an accountability agency," Senator Murray said. "These recommendations are essential to the improvement of the State Ombudsman - the accountability agency which is most used by the community.

“The pattern which has emerged from the Coalition camp is that the COG recommendations which have been implemented least, are the ones that matter most.

"Crucial recommendations relating to the strengthening of the independence and powers of the accountability agents such as the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman and the Anti-Corruption Commission, have been sidelined and avoided by the Court Government.

“The Government's failure to establish strong independent accountability agencies is at the cost of community interest. It is the people of Western Australia - not the government - which suffer when accountability agencies are weak,” Senator Murray said.

“If elected to the Upper House at the State election, the Australian Democrats will push for the implementation of the remaining recommendations by the Commission on Government on the State Ombudsman."

To arrange interview or for further information contact Senator Andrew Murray: (06) 277 3709