The Victorian government has granted the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission permission to access $7.36 million from its trust fund after the watchdog complained about its budget allocation.
Appearing before the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee on Tuesday, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy revealed Treasurer Tim Pallas had approved IBAC’s request to draw down on the trust fund.
Lynda Rogers, chief finance officer of the Department of Justice and Community Safety, said the extra $7.36 million would boost IBAC’s 2020/21 budget by 12 per cent.
However, Ms Hennessy indicated the trust fund – established in 2012 – would be completely exhausted by the withdrawal.
“It’s my understanding … that is, from the advice I’ve been given, the remaining balance,” she told the PAEC hearing.
“From that, I deduce … that’s all that’s left.”
IBAC had been warning it didn’t have enough funding to do its job properly, even with a $27 million budget injection over the next four years.
Commissioner Robert Redlich QC said this wasn’t enough to keep up with an ever-increasing workload, as it continues to investigate Victorian Labor’s alleged branch stacking and other matters.
Without supplementary funding, IBAC told the Labor-majority Integrity and Oversight Committee last week it would need to cut costs by $6 million, or 23 per cent of its total budget.
As opposition committee members pressed claims of a $4.4 million cut to IBAC’s bottom line, Ms Hennessy continued to maintain the government had done just the opposite.
“I perhaps will not surprise you by asserting that it is the government’s position that IBAC’s budget has not been cut,” she said.
“In fact, it has been significantly increased.”