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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 157

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 16 November 2004:

With reference to a letter dated 17 September 2003 sent by Mr D Brown of Ocean Reef, Western Australia, to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, in which he specified six alleged irregularities in the conduct of the ombudsman, and asked for a detailed response to each complaint:

(1)   Has the ombudsman received this letter; if so, has he responded to the complaints made in the letter; if not, when will a response be made.

(2)   Does the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman respond to complaints made about the office itself, whether or not these are the basis of a formal complaint about a particular individual within the office.

(3)   Has the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman established a benchmark time frame for responding to complaints about the office.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   I am advised by the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office that the Commonwealth Ombudsman has written to Senator Brown providing an overview of his involvement in Mr Brown’s complaint.

(2)   and (3) The Ombudsman’s service charter includes a policy on the conduct of reviews into complaints about the office and response standards for correspondence. The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office has advised that in some cases where complainants do not accept a decision not to investigate (or investigate further) it is sometimes necessary for the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office to inform those complainants that it will no longer respond to their correspondence, except where the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office is satisfied that the correspondence raises new evidence or a new issue.