Speaker Rattenbury has issued a statement on the Liberals’ Alistair Coe trying to sic the Ombudsman onto the Legislative Assembly for being mean to him about his use of taxpayer funding for leaflets.
The Speaker is not at all sure what the process is in the face of this remarkable move:
“In announcing the investigation, the Ombudsman has acknowledged certain limitations on jurisdiction in relation to the Assembly. These limitations underpin the privilege that Assembly members are granted in the Westminster system and must be respected”, Speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly Shane Rattenbury said.
“The Office of the Clerk has previously received legal advice from the Government Solicitor raising questions about the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman over advice provided to MLAs by officials of the Legislative Assembly as to Members adherence to the Members Code of Conduct.
“The decision of the Ombudsman to undertake an investigation into the Office of the Legislative’s advice given to Members raises a number of significant and important issues. These include what scope there should be, in a system that respects the separation of powers, for outside organisations to review Members requests for advice and the contents of that advice.
“The Clerk is seeking further legal advice in relation to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman in this matter.
“If those jurisdictional issues are able to be resolved, I am confident that the Clerk of the Assembly and his staff will be able to assist the Ombudsman to examine whether there are any substantial failings or impediments in its administration of DOA and related entitlements”, Mr Rattenbury said.
While the lawyers, as usual, do well out of the issue it’s hard to see what the public benefit will be.